Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The 2012 BES Annual Meeting

A Chance to Gather

Vollmer Center, site of BES' 2012 Annual Meeting
Every year near toward the end of October, the Baltimore Ecosystem Study Long-Term Ecological Research community meets to share results, insights, and accomplishments, as well as to look forward to the next year's activities.  Everybody who has an interest in our research, education, and community engagement is invited to attend.   Registration will be available on the BES Homepage.  This helps us keep track of attendance, and to collect the modest fees to cover the costs of lunch and a light breakfast.  There are several notable features of this year's Annual Meeting.

Keynote by Prof Sherry Olson
First, we are privileged to have Sherry Olson as our keynote speaker this year.  Prof. Olson is author of a classic book on Baltimore as well as other important works on urban geography and history.  As detailed in an earlier post (, she will talk about "The Growth Machine: Its Environmental Legacy."  This talk should put us in the mind for synthesis, which is one of the goals of our annual interactions as an inclusive community.

A Chance to Link Science and Art
This year's Annual Meeting will also feature a photography exhibit by Lynn Cazabon (  She is BES's first official Artist-In-Residence.  Building upon the success of our earlier connections with artists, BES is establishing a tradition to connect art and science.  Attendees at this year's meeting will be treated to a display of photographs from Lynn's widely known and acknowledged work.

Gearing Up for the Mid-Term Review
Midway through each six-year funding cycle, the National Science Foundation conducts an external review of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study LTER.  All LTER projects undergo this rigorous external evaluation to determine whether they are on track with the research, educational, and outreach commitments they made in their grant proposals.  These reviews also help each project prepare for its next full grant proposal to NSF.

Our mid-term review for this grant cycle will take place in October next year.  In order to make this most convenient for BES members, and to ensure a broad participation of our community, the mid-term review will overlap with part of the Annual Meeting in 2013.  Because of this, it is important for all members of the BES community to understand the mid-term review process, and to learn how to prepare to best articulate their role and contributions to the mission of BES.

Part of our preparation will be to outline the book that BES will design to synthesize what by then will be 15 years of integrated urban socio-ecological research, educational research and programs, and interaction with communities and decision leaders in the Baltimore region.  The Annual Meeting will be a chance to inform all members of BES about the plans for this book, and to be sure that all who wish to contribute have a pathway to do so.

Celebrate the Community
Lady Baltimore Statue at Cylburn
For many years now our meetings have also been associated with Parks & People Foundation's Community Greening Celebration.  This adds the dimension of interacting with individuals and groups that have made substantial improvements in Baltimore's environment and neighborhoods.  An awards ceremony, distinguished guests, food, and music are part of this celebration of the achievements of our neighbors and partners.

A Charm City Venue
Our meeting will take place at the Vollmer Center, nestled in the City's beautiful Cylburn Arboretum.  This location has been a hit with BES Annual Meeting attendees in the past. During breaks, join your firends and colleagues for walks on the many trails through the woods and gardens overlooking the Jones Falls Valley.  See you there!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lynn Cazabon: BES's First Artist-In-Residence

Photographer and member of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County faculty, Lynn Cazabon is the first official Artist-In-Residence at the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, Long-Term Ecological Research program.  She began her contribution to the BES community by presenting a lecture on her ongoing project "Uncultivated" at the 2011 Annual Meeting. This year of artistic residency will culminate with an exhibit of her work during the BES Annual Meeting from 24-25 October, 2012.  This meeting will take place at Cylburn Arboretum, and all members, partners, and collaborators of BES are invited to attend. 


Of particular relevance to BES, "Uncultivated" takes as its subject wild plants that thrive in urban environments and has been disseminated via public displays on billboards and transit shelters. The full project can be viewed at  Her thought provoking and creative images of Baltimore’s volunteer flora stimulated the awareness of the public about the often unappreciated plants around them, and how they fit into the metropolis.  Lynn's work has been exhibited widely in the United States and abroad. Examples of her other projects can be viewed at her website:

A Deepening Commitment to Art

BES first involved artists two years ago, when the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange performed at the annual meeting and the community open house, as well as presented a talk on their work.  The stimulation of creativity and interpretive power of art for scientific concepts and subjects has become clear to us as a result of that effort and interactions since them.  BES has been exploring how to facilitate and institutionalize connections between artists of all sorts and the scientific and educational work of the project.  A committee comprising scientists, educators, and artists has helped to shape a vision for continued interaction between our scholarship, community engagement, and the arts.  This committee, chaired by Dr. Mark Twery, has designed an Artist-In-Residence program.  We will be posting more information on how to apply for a one year residency in the near future.

Exhibit at BES Annual Meeting

Meanwhile, check out Uncultivated on line, and join us at the Annual Meeting to celebrate the connection between science and art as embodied in Lynn Cazabon’s powerful images.  Her work is a great example of how science can benefit from art.  We are delighted that Lynn will donate the use of one of her photographs to BES.

(See an earlier Director's Corner post for Background on BES and art.)

BES Book of the Year -- Baltimore: The Building of an American City

We have started a new tradition at BES.  A book of the year is a good way to focus on some important publication relevant to everyone in the Baltimore Ecosystem Study.  We start this tradition with a classic and fundamental book about the history and development of Baltimore: Professor Sherry H. Olson’s Baltimore: The Building of an American City.  Although first published in 1980, and updated in 1997, it remains a key intellectual resource on Baltimore.  Prof. Olson was on the faculty at Johns Hopkins University at the time the book was first written.  She has since moved to McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.

By highlighting this book, we hope that all members of the BES community will read this important work.  Some of course, will be returning to it as a refresher.  The book will surely repay their effort, given the plethora of details and explanations of the trajectory of change in Baltimore.  Those who are new to Prof. Olson’s book are in for a treat, because it is not only comprehensive, but engagingly written.

Our spotlight on this book will also shine on Prof. Olson herself, as she will give the keynote presentation at our Annual Meeting at the Cylburn Arboretum on 24 October, 2012.  Entitled "The Growth Machine: Its Environmental Legacy," this talk will give a chance for her to bring us up to date on her research and scholarship.  All members of the BES community are invited to delve into the book, and to hear Prof. Olson at our Annual Meeting.

See her web page for more on her research interests and publications: