Events


Denise LoydA grad student, a post-doc, and a visiting scientist walk into a lab. What happens? Well, better science! Better, that is, than for a group composed of all post-docs, or all grad students, or all scientists from the same institution, according to Denise Loyd (left), an assistant professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Loyd, who studies the effects of diversity in groups, presented her research last week in a talk sponsored by the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative.  Loyd provided evidence that the presence of diversity in a group strengthens discussions in which final group decisions are made. Groups in which a majority of members fall into one category (based on race, background, institution affiliation, etc.), while a minority fall into another, put more time and thought into their conclusions.

We might assume the benefits of diversity in groups are solely attributable to the unique perspectives of the minority members. However, Loyd’s research shows that the simple existence of diversity can alter group dynamics in such a way that brings out different, positive behaviors in majority members, such as showing greater openness to others’ ideas.

Loyd also emphasized the importance of seeking out the unique strengths of members who may have lower perceived status in a group, such as undergraduates working in a lab with graduate students and post-docs. Her talk will no doubt prove useful to Woods Hole scientists and other community members seeking to strengthen group efforts. It also might help explain why the peer-to-peer dynamic in the MBL’s courses—where students problem-solve real-world research problems alongside some of the world’s top scientists—is often so energizing and productive.

Loyd’s talk was part of a Woods Hole Diversity Initiative event series called  “Synergy and the Group; the Hidden Power of Diversity.” For more information on upcoming events, visit http://www.woodsholediversity.org/.

Part of what makes the MBL unique is that its biologists are able to learn so much from the marine animals found just offshore. Fundamental biological processes in these creatures are often similar or identical to those in other species, including humans. For example, MBL scientists use sea urchins to study embryo development, sharks to study the neural basis of behavior, and squid to study nerve cells.

Last week, members and guests of the MBL Board of Trustees and Board of Overseers enjoyed a tour  aboard the MBL’s collecting boat, the R/V Gemma. Below is a photo tour of their excursion, as sea urchins, starfish, and other model organisms destined to help MBL scientists in their studies were netted. Animals collected on the R/V Gemma are brought back to the MBL’s Marine Resources Center, where they are maintained until they’re used for research.

R/V Gemma crew members prepare to haul in a net used for catching plankton.

R/V Gemma crew members prepare to haul in a net used for catching plankton. The boat leaves from Eel Pond in Woods Hole and heads two miles offshore into Vineyard Sound for sample collection.

____________ explains the importance of plankton as copepods, small crustaceans, swim around in his sample jar.

Ed Enos, superintendent of the MBL's Aquatic Resources Department, explains the importance of plankton in the food chain as copepods (small crustaceans) swim around in his sample jar. Looking on is William (Bill) Zammer, a member of the MBL Board of Overseers.

Crew members bring in a net after dragging it along the seafloor to catch crabs, sea urchins, starfish, and other creatures.

Crew members bring up a scallop dredge after dragging it along the seafloor to catch crabs, sea urchins, starfish, and other creatures.

A crab tries to escape across the deck, away from the sea urchins and shells piled up behind it.

A crab wanders away from the sea urchins and shells piled up behind it. Crew members will sift through the pile, keeping some animals for MBL research and returning the rest to the ocean.

One catch of the day is this slimy set of translucent squid egg cases.

One catch of the day is this slimy set of translucent squid egg cases.

This sea star is regenerating a lost leg, a process that has been studied at the MBL.

This sea star is regenerating a lost leg, a cellular process that is studied at the MBL.
Back in Eel Pond, the Gemma is docked near the Marine Resources Center. Ebert Hall is in the background.

Back at Eel Pond, the R/V Gemma is docked near the Marine Resources Center. Ebert Hall is in the background.

For more information on the R/V Gemma, visit http://www.mbl.edu/mrc/outreach/gemma.html.

By Sarah Stanley

Renowned poet, playwright, and Simmons College professor Afaa Michael Weaver treated the Woods Hole community to a poetry reading on Friday for the village’s annual Juneteenth celebration. Weaver, a Baltimore native who spent several years working with his father and uncles in a factory before embarking on a remarkable literary career, read a number of poems to honor the June 19, 1865, implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas, over two years after it was signed into law. The anniversary of the law’s enforcement is now celebrated as Juneteenth, commemorating the national abolishment of slavery.

Afaa Michael Weaver performs a poetry reading for Woods Hole’s annual Juneteenth celebration. Photo by Sarah Stanley

Afaa Michael Weaver presents a poetry reading at Woods Hole’s annual Juneteenth celebration. Photo by Sarah Stanley

Surrounded by antique botanical prints, Weaver captivated the crowd gathered in the Meigs Room of Swope Conference Center. His selections showed his wide range as a poet, covering topics from childhood crushes to familial love, from personal growth to class and race. He opened, appropriately, with a poem called “Science,” in which his childhood self begs to be rescued from science class. He followed with thoughtful poems— many dedicated to various family members, friends, and acquaintances—that recalled experiences throughout his life. “Remember,” a particularly poignant poem written for his granddaughter, urges her repeatedly to alert him if he forgets to protect her:

If I forget to plug the sun,

let me know

If I forget to tame the sharks’ teeth,

let me know

If I forget to stop the tsunamis,

let me know

If I forget to tie up the bears,

let me know

If I forget to chase away the viruses,

let me know…

“[Poetry is] my way of legitimizing my life,” Weaver said in a Q&A after the reading. “It led me gradually to a realization of who I am spiritually and secularly.”

Scientists and other community members enjoyed Weaver’s readings before heading into the late afternoon sun for a barbeque on the lawn at the nearby NOAA Fisheries Service.

The event was organized by the Black History Month Committee, which includes members from the MBL, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Sea Education Association, USGS Science Center for Coastal and Marine Geology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Woods Hole Research Center. The committee celebrates and educates the Woods Hole community on African American history and culture.

It’s summer! Welcome back to the MBL and our seasonal blog, @MBL. We are firing up our “Photo of the Week” series again, and we’d love to feature your shots of life at the MBL: what’s unique, intriguing, beautiful, funny, classic. Please send “Photo of the Week” submissions to mblnews@mbl.edu, and include caption information (who, what, when, where, why).

Earlier this month, Loeb Laboratory suddenly morphed from a beautiful, but quiet, showcase for modern lab design to a energized beehive of MBL students and faculty. And over in Rowe Laboratory, the rooms are filling up with researchers from around the world. MBL Club activities began yesterday, and already there is a full schedule of lectures and other events on campus to inspire and entertain you. Have fun choosing!

Woods Hole aerial by Karen Casciotti

Woods Hole aerial by Karen Casciotti

By Matt Person

If this photo suggests someone who has been far away and returned to report on his explorations, then it accurately depicts MBL scientist Paul Colinvaux’s informal lecture in the last of the MBLWHOI Library’s Summer Salon series. Reading from his book, Amazon Expeditions: My Quest for the Ice-Age Equator (2008, Yale University Press), Colinvaux gave a “you are there” sense of the exciting discoveries he made during his long career, which included climate research revelations during a search for lakes on cloud-shrouded Galapagos Island mountaintops; trekking deep into the Amazon for further climate studies; and recounting his earliest climate research in the Alaska wilderness.

“This is a memoir of a life in science. It is a story of exploring,” writes Colinvaux in a synopsis to his book. “It is a story of a great hypothesis [the refuge hypothesis] that grew into a scientific paradigm of our times. It explores the Amazon, the ice age, and climate change. … It is a tale of when evolutionary ecology came of age, to seek causes for the diversity of living things. … It tells of the power of paradigms to control the thoughts of men and of a struggle to remove an Amazon paradigm whose consequence was mischievous.”

Paul Colinvaux speaks at the MBLWHOI Library's Summer Salon series. Photo by Matt Person

Paul Colinvaux speaks at the MBLWHOI Library's Summer Salon series. Photo by Matt Person

« Previous PageNext Page »