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MBL History Project Closes its Fifth and Final Season

August 14, 2017

Five years of work by ASU graduate students at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) came to a close on Friday July 21, 2017, as the MBL History Project closed its fifth and final season.

The Project, started in 2013, sought to catalogue and share the rich history of the Marine Biological Laboratory, where researchers like Thomas Hunt Jane Maienschein and Sean CohmerMorgan conducted some of their Nobel Prize-winning research. In that effort, for the past five summer, ASU professor Jane Maienschein has taken a group of MBL fellows out to the lab to digitize archival materials, conduct oral histories, and create digital exhibits to preserve and communicate the history of the MBL and surrounding Woods Hole community.

This year, five ASU students traveled to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, as MBL Fellows: Jonathan LaTourelle, Sean Cohmer, Challie Facemire, Alexis Abboud, and Carolina Abboud. Over the course of ten weeks, the group managed to wrap up many of the project’s goals, digitizing over two thousand archive items, conducting and uploading upwards of twenty oral histories, and designing several digital and physical exhibits to showcase different aspects of the MBL.

Though all Fellows worked on the different aspects of the Project, each took special interest in a particular area. LaTourelle led the charge on oral histories, charming stories from many in the MBL community to help show the role the MBL has played in the lives of scientists for over a century. The oral histories are available on the Project’s YouTube channel. Cohmer focused on developing a physical exhibit on the work of Thomas Hunt Morgan, pulling together collected items and historical facts to create a story accessible to a public audience interested in learning more about the Nobel Prize winner. Alexis and Carolina Abboud focused on digitizing the many objects stored in the MBL library, including the correspondence of researchers like Viktor Hamburger. All of the materials are available on the MBL History Project website. Finally, Facemire pulled everything together, acting as editor for the Project, by reviewing oral histories, helping upload objects, and putting final touches on digital exhibits. As a group, the ASU graduate students successfully completed the work set out at the beginning of the project.

Carolina Abboud and Jen WaltonTo celebrate the end of the ten weeks, the Fellows along with the MBL Library staff, ASU professors Maienschein and Richard Creath, and former project manager Kate MacCord gathered for a final dinner on Thursday. The group not only celebrated the completion of the MBL History Project, but also discussed future plans at the MBL, including several grants that will help to continue some of the work preserving the history of science at the laboratory.

Though regrettably over, the MBL History Project has accomplished a lot in its five years. A special thanks goes to all of those involved, especially the long-time project manager Kate MacCord and the MBL Library staff—Jennifer Walton, Matthew Person, John Furfey, and Nancy Stafford. We here at ASU look forward to what comes next for the history of science at the MBL.

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