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2017 Cranberry Lake Biological Center Annual Report

By Melissa Fierke, Director and Academic Program Coordinator

In Summer 2016, I served as a co-Director with Dr. Robin Kimmerer and then went solo in summer 2017 (though Robin was Acting Director during our two-week elective session).  Running the station is a team effort and includes many folks, some who’ve been at the station for years and others who are relatively new, but we are all dedicated to making the station a safe welcoming environment and an excellent academic learning experience for the more than 200 students who rotate through during the summer.

Craig Perrault was our Physical Plant supervisor, overseeing two boat pilots and 3–4 permanent and summer workers as well as two work study students. Sadly, it was our last summer with Captain Bill as our main boat pilot and we wish him well as he moves into full retirement mode. Sarge stepped up to take on many hours of piloting boats, as did Jay and Marty - all of whom are critical to keeping the station, and our boats, up and running. Seamus, a work study from last year, came back for a second summer to help and him along with our two summer work studies, Sean and Quinn, who were pre-freshmen and despite it being their first summer away from home, stuck it out and did a wonderful job despite the extraordinarily cool rainy summer with larger than normal populations of black flies.

John Shaylor served as our Director of Food Services and he along with a substantial cohort of food service workers, including permanent cooks Roxy, Crystal, and Laura, several temporary cooks and two kitchen work studies, Erin and Devon, made sure we had lots of good food and kept our dining hall a welcoming place for our students. A side note is that Roxy Baker, our lead cook at the station just received the 2017 ESF CSEA outstanding employee of the year award for her service and always going above and beyond for our students and the station.

We were extremely lucky to have Kristen Haynes, a PhD student in Environmental and Forest Biology, serve as Business Manager for a third summer. Stacy Wood, a registered nurse from northwest Arkansas, served as our office manager for the summer and kept things running smoothly when Kristen was doing her dissertation research off station. We also had a cadre of rotating work study students helping in the office, including Aaron, Jen, Cassie, Maria, and Emily. A highlight was having Aaron on station for his 4th straight summer at CLBS. He first came to CLBS as a High School senior with the BOCES program (see below), then came back the next two as a kitchen work study, and this summer, he was in the office as well as teaching the aquatics portion of the BOCES program (full circle).

My duties as Director included supervising the overall day to day running of the station as well as being the Academic Program Coordinator for courses taught at the station and overall responsibility for the 216 students on a 24/7 basis. I also taught portions of EFB 202 (Sampling, Entomology, Statistics), welcomed guests and visitors to the station, held informational meetings for EFB students, handled on-campus registration, and was the contact point for all CLBS-related inquiries. Both on and off-season I worked closely with Physical Plant, Boat Pilots and Food Service operations at the Station to ensure as smooth an operation as possible.

This was our second summer facilitating three sessions of EFB202 in order to take care of the backlog of students needing the course (in 2016 we had 216 students go through EFB202 and another 54 in our electives). As in 2016, the courses received excellent reviews in 2017 and faculty/instructors (see below) were wonderful to work with.

Session A – 55 EFB202 students

Session B – 62 EFB202 students

Session C - Ethnobotany 14; Adirondack Flora & Wetlands 18; Field Herpetology 16; Adirondack Fishes (taught at the Adirondack Ecological Center) - 13

Session D – 51 EFB202 students

Winning projects for the Shields award can be found on the Moon Library Digital Commons website  ( and ranged from fear pheromones of minnows to mycorrhizae associated with black spruce. Dr. Keith Bowman deserves special recognition for his efforts in facilitating projects in 2017 and also, a belated shout out to Dr. Tom Evans for facilitating many excellent projects in 2016.

In addition to the ESF courses, we also ran a one week program for High School students through OCM BOCES (23 students, 4 chaperones, a nurse, a life/security guard, and an on site supervisor). This program is similar to the three week EFB202 class, with hands on learning and a research project, except it is condensed into one week.

The Station hosted three graduate students from Indiana State University for a long-term study (31 years and counting) of white-throated sparrow genetics and behavior. Unhappily, we lost Dr. Elaina Tuttle, PI on this project in 2016, and so this year a small memorial was held for her and past students on the project as well as Elaina’s family, all of whom came to the station to say farewell to this amazing researcher who was supported for 31 years through grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, and other grants.

Kristen Haynes, our very own Business Manager, was the recipient of the 2017 Grober graduate student award and she carried out a portion of her dissertation research on stations and also traveled to field sites elsewhere in the Adirondacks. This fellowship is based on a $300,000 gift received from the Samuel Grober estate in 2009–2010, the bulk of which has been invested to support this annual graduate student fellowship at the Station. Kristen is researching several rare and potentially endangered plants with genetics work on these plants being carried out in the Grober Genetics Laboratory at CLBS.

In 2017, we gave out more than $10,000 in scholarships to 15 undergraduates taking EFB202 at CLBS (scholarships ranged from $1500 to $250). We are looking to continue efforts to raise more money for a sustained source of scholarship funds.

We hosted >100 friends/family at Field Days for the three EFB202 sessions and this year we had students each session undertake hiking the Cranberry 50… with one person of extreme fortitude completing the endeavor barefoot! Our communications folks also came up and put together a really nice feature for the most Inside ESF magazine issue.

A new initiative was developing CLBS t-shirts in 2016 and 2017. These are a collage of drawings from journals kept by CLBS students in past years. The 2016 design is by Holly Faulkner, Class of 2014, and the 2017 design is by Hope Mahon, Class of 2020.

Lastly, I’d like to share a video ( by Zoya Baker, a graduate student pursuing an MFA at Hunter College. Zoya took Ethnobotany with Dr. Kimmerer in the electives session summer of 2016 and then came back at the end of the summer to talk with Alumni at the 101st anniversary of the Biostation. This short film has won a multitude of awards and is a lovely example of a summer at CLBS.

EFB202 Instructors

Ben Amos, MS Graduate Student ESF: Aquatics
Alan Belford, Visiting Instructor & Field Biologist, Wildlife Conservation Society: Ornithology
Dr. Keith Bowman, Visiting Instructor: Plant Ecology, Stats & Research Projects

Dr. Russ Briggs, Professor ESF: Soils

Dr. Katherine Cleary, Adjunct Assistant Professor, SUNY Potsdam:  Mammology

Dr. Melissa Fierke, Associate Professor ESF:  Sampling, Entomology, & Statistics,

Dr. James Gibbs, Professor ESF:  Herpetology                                          

Dr. Jake Gillette, Visiting Instructor:  Aquatics

Dr. Miriam Ibarra, Visiting Instructor:  Aquatics

Dr. Don Stewart, Professor ESF:  Aquatics

Dr. Glenn Johnson, Professor, SUNY Potsdam:  Herpetology

Dr. Stephanie Johnson, Visiting Instructor:  Aquatics

Dr. Mariann Johnston, Associate Professor, ESF Ranger School:  Soils               

Jade Johnson, Masters Graduate Student ESF:  Scientific Journaling           

Dr. Mary Beth Kolozsvary, Professor, Sienna College:  Herpetology

Dr. Gregory McGee, Assistant Professor ESF:  Research Projects & Plant Ecology            

Chris Nack, PhD Graduate Student ESF: Aquatics

Marissa Nolan, Masters Graduate Student ESF: Orienteering                                                       

Dr. Dylan Parry, Associate Professor ESF: Entomology

Paul Ray, Visiting Instructor: Soils

Margaret Roberts, PhD Graduate Student ESF: Plant Ecology

Dr. Jack Tessier, Professor of Biology, SUNY-Delhi: Plant Ecology & Stats

Dr. Kim Schultz, Associate Professor ESF: Research Projects

Dr. Alexander Weir, Professor ESF: Mycology

Michael Whalen, PhD Graduate Student ESF: Plant Ecology

Elective Instructors

Ethnobotany:             Dr. Robin Kimmerer, ESF Distinguished Teaching Professor

Wetlands:                   Dr. Don Leopold, ESF Distinguished Teaching Professor

Alex Petsky, ESF PhD Graduate Student

Herpetology:             Dr. Mary Beth Kolozsvary, Professor, Siena College

Adirondack Fishes:   Dr. Margaret Murphy, ESF Adjunct Instructor