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November 30, 2004
West Falmouth Harbor Pollution Among Topics to be Addressed at MBL Research Symposium

WOODS HOLE, MA-The public is invited to attend a symposium featuring the research results of students who have spent the fall semester participating in the Marine Biological Laboratory's (MBL's) Semester in Environmental Sciences (SES) program. The symposium will be held from 9:00-2:30 pm on Friday, December 17 in the MBL’s Lillie Auditorium, MBL Street, Woods Hole. A brief awards ceremony and reception will follow the presentations. Students will discuss the results of their projects covering topics such as pollution in the coastal zone and consequences of land use changes at local field sites including the Falmouth Sewage Treatment Plant.

The SES program is designed to immerse undergraduate science students in an intensive semester of hands-on ecological science, and is sponsored by the MBL’s Ecosystems Center. Scientists at the Ecosystems Center are conducting leading edge research on the effects of land-use change, climate, and alterations in nutrient cycles on freshwater, coastal, and terrestrial habitats all over the world. Virtually all of the Ecosystems Center's principal investigators, and many of the support staff, participate in the SES program.

SES students are investigating impacts from wastewater on West Falmouth Harbor, to ecological function of bog ecosystems in their natural state, and when farmed for cranberries, to the ability of rivers to remove nitrate concentration, to the effects of invasive species and a host of other issues. 

Throughout the fall, students have spent more than 20 hours a week conducting hands-on lab work and field research in the forests, ponds, and estuaries of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. In addition to taking courses in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems science, the students have participated in a science writing seminar designed to illustrate how the results of scientific investigations can be transmitted to the public.

A detailed symposium schedule and list of presentations can be viewed on the MBL website here.


The Marine Biological Laboratory is an independent scientific institution, founded in 1888, dedicated to improving the human condition through basic research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. The MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the western hemisphere. The research of the MBL's Ecosystems Center, which was established at the MBL in 1975, is focused on the study of natural ecosystems.  Among the key environmental issues being addressed are: the ecological consequences of global climate change; tropical deforestation and its effects on greenhouse gas fluxes; nitrogen saturation of mid-latitude forests; effects of acid rain on North American lakes; and pollution and habitat destruction in coastal ecosystems of the United States.