2018 Winter Lectures: Science & History On The Bay

Photo: Chuck Gallegos

Kick off the new year by digging deeper into local science and history in your backyard! SERC's first winter evening lecture series will explore how climate change is impacting the Chesapeake, the biology of some of the Bay's most popular creatures, and the 17th- to 19th-century discoveries from our citizen science archaeologists. Lectures take place Tuesday evenings at 7pm, in the Schmidt Conference Center (directions). The series runs from  Jan. 16 to March 13. Free and open to all!

Stay tuned for updates on our monthly evening lecture series, starting Tue. March 20!

Part 1: Science on the Bay

Climate Change Science in 2018
Tuesday, Jan. 16, 7pm
Speaker: Bert Drake, SERC scientist emeritus
In the kickoff lecture, get the latest on climate change science with SERC plant physiologist Bert Drake. Dr. Drake will recap some of the highlights of his 2017 "Making Sense of Climate Change" series, and introduce some of the newest developments over the past year.

Sea Level Rise and the Fate of Chesapeake Wetlands
Tuesday, Jan. 23, 7pm
Speaker: Pat Megonigal, SERC biogeochemist
Wetlands are critical for protecting our homes from storms and filtering out pollution before it reaches the Bay, in addition to sheltering wildlife above and below the water. But can they survive the onslaught of rising seas? In this talk, SERC biogeochemist Pat Megonigal will outline how wetlands have evolved ways to resist sea level rise, and what it may take for them to succeed in the 21st century.

Chesapeake Fisheries: The Facts and the Future
Tuesday, Jan. 30, 7pm
Speaker: Tuck Hines, SERC director and marine biologist
In this talk, Tuck Hines will give an overview of some of the Chesapeake's most iconic species, including oysters, blue crabs, striped bass, menhaden and river herring. Despite their vastly different life cycles and fisheries, this talk shows a consistent historical pattern, and points to the key for restoration and sustainable management.

The Strange and Wonderful Science of Blue Crabs
Tuesday, Feb. 6, 7pm
Speaker: Tuck Hines, SERC director and  marine biologist
When it comes to popularity, few species in the Chesapeake can compete with blue crabs, or Callinectes sapidus, the "savory, beautiful swimmers" of the Bay. But their biology is woven with stories just as rich as their meat, and stranger. Join Tuck Hines, SERC director and blue crab biologist, for an in-depth look at what we’ve learned about the life cycle of blue crabs, and the weird science behind the discoveries. He'll also provide an update on the challenges of sustaining the fishery.

Part 2: History on the Bay

Archaeology and Citizen Science at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Tuesday, Feb. 13, 7pm
Speaker: Jim Gibb, SERC research associate and head of the Environmental Archaeology Lab
Energetic, motivated citizens offer a largely untapped supply of talent that the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center’s archaeology laboratory harnesses to conduct original scientific research into human impacts on the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Citizen scientists do more than assist scientists: They are the scientists, developing and implementing research designs, analyzing data, and documenting results through report writing and professional conference presentations. This talk highlights three of nearly 20 such projects, and discusses some of the history of the Java Plantation house found on the SERC's Contee Farm.

Lost Buttons, Oyster Shells and Colonial Diets: Highlights from SERC's Archaeology Citizen Scientists
Tuesday, Feb. 20, 7pm
Speakers: Jim Breedlove, Jocelyn Lee and Kathleen Cannon (SERC citizen scientists)
SERC's Environmental Archaeology Lab is the only lab in the center run entirely by volunteers. In this lightning talk-style session, learn about three of the many projects SERC citizen scientists are taking on as they excavate SERC's 17th-century plantations and other historic areas on and off SERC's campus. Discover the meat-eating habits of Port Tobacco settlers, the rise and fall of Delmarva's shell button industry, and the stories hidden in centuries-old oyster shells scattered across the SERC campus.

Preserving the History of a Jim Crow Era School: Restoration at the Mill Swamp/Ralph J. Bunche School & Community Center
Tuesday, Feb. 27, 7pm
Speaker: Sarah Grady, SERC citizen scientist
Built in 1930, the Mill Swamp School (later the Ralph J. Bunche School) educated African-American students in Maryland for over two decades during a time of Jim Crow and segregation. It became a community center after integration and a fight from the community to preserve it, and today celebrates African-American history and culture. The University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center are partnering with the center to preserve the school building, search for the preceding Freedmen’s Bureau school, and explore other archaeological manifestations of the community’s past. The board of trustees for the center determines the direction of the work. 

Ancient Oysters and Modern Messes: How Archaeology Can Help Clean Up Chesapeake Bay
Tuesday, March 6, 7pm
Speaker: Leslie Reeder-Myers (Temple University anthropologist)
Oysters struggle to grow in the Rhode River today,  but dozens of archaeological sites full of oyster shells tell us that they were once plentiful. These sites show how Native Americans used the abundant resources of Chesapeake Bay for thousands of years, and how the relationship between people and the Bay has shifted over the past few centuries. In this talk, anthropologist Leslie Reeder-Myers will explore how Chesapeake environments and cultures have changed, and investigate a few archaeological clues about what we could do differently today.

The Sellman House: Three Centuries of Building and Living on the Chesapeake
Tuesday, March 13, 7pm
Speaker: Preston Hull, architectural conservator (Building Conservation Associates, Inc.)
The Sellman/Kirkpatrick-Howat House, known to its occupants as Woodlawn, embodies almost three centuries of change. Over the generations, the needs and ideals of the families who lived there shifted in relation to their surroundings. Nowhere is this clearer than in the house’s three sections, each built more than 100 years apart. From its origins as a tobacco plantation house in the early 1700s, to its 1979 passive solar addition, the story of Woodlawn is a reflection of the story of the Chesapeake itself.