ASU graduate student researchers (left to right: Paige Madison, J.J. LaTourelle, Alexis Abboud, Valerie Racine, Wes Anderson)

MBL History Project Enters Third Year, Expands in New Directions

Brown University Royce Fellow and biodiversity are among this year’s big news at the MBL History Project.

On Thursday, May 14th, the MBL History Project opened its doors in the Marine Biological Laboratory’s (MBL) historic Lillie building for its third summer collecting season.

Each summer, a group of graduate researchers from ASU’s Center for Biology and Society, make their way to the MBL in Woods Hole, MA, to digitize archival materialsinterview scientists, and write digital exhibits that contextualize the history of science at the MBL. These materials are made openly accessible through the project’s website.

This season’s graduate researchers (Alexis AbboudWes AndersonJ.J. LaTourellePaige Madison, and Valerie Racine) were joined on Tuesday, June 2, by Beatrice Steinert, a rising Senior at Brown University.

Steinert earned a prestigious Royce Fellowship from her home institution to join the MBL History Project this year. Her research, titled “Drawing Embryos Together Methods of Visual Thinking in Developmental Biology,” highlights the intersection of art and science, and focuses on the science of long-term MBLer Edmund Beecher Wilson.

The graduate researchers will expand projects on the works of John P. Trinkaus (Racine), neurobiology at the MBL (LaTourelle), and aggregating data on all course participants and researchers over the MBL’s 127 years (Anderson). Project PI Jane Maienschein will continue her work on the history of embryology at the MBL with exhibits on the 1939 Embryology Course, regeneration, and several others. Additionally, Abboud will begin to document scientific research on the cell cycle that led to several Nobel Prizes.

This year, Madison, in conjunction with Abboud, will extend the project into an exciting new area of research and collaboration by exploring the history of specimen collection at the MBL. This research puts her into close contact with the MBL's Marine Resources Center (MRC).

Madison’s work with the MRC will extend the digital archives of the MBL History Project to include items like collection boat’s Captain’s logs, and historical and modern images of people collecting organisms like squid, sea urchins, and clams. These items will become the heart of a sprawling new exhibit on the history of collecting specimens to support MBL research, and also serve as the basis for the historical arm of an emerging project that traces biodiversity in the Woods Hole area.

In addition to her work with the MRC, Madison is spearheading a new social media campaign for the MBL History Project--which now has a presence on twitterfacebook, and tumblr.

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Kate MacCord