Summer courses at the Central Michigan University Biological Station on Beaver Island drew record numbers of students this year.
CMUBS Director Donald Uzarski said about 250 students from the College of Science and Technology attended classes at the station this summer. This is the most student involvement in the history of the program, which has been growing in popularity in recent years.
“This is our best year for student numbers, and we have increased our numbers consistently over the past five years,” Uzarski said.
Beaver Island is located about 32 miles from Charlevoix in Lake Michigan. In addition to offering CMU students a unique opportunity for hands-on research, more than 150 researchers used the station this year to study the ecosystems of the island’s pristine forests and swamps.
Twelve courses from the departments of biology, chemistry and earth and atmospheric sciences were offered at CMUBS this summer, Uzarksi said. The classes are shorter than normal semester-long courses, ranging in duration from four days to three weeks. They are intensive, focusing heavily on both lectures and field collection.
This summer’s classes started shortly after spring semester and will run into the week leading into fall semester in August.
St. Paul graduate student Thomas Langer is studying for his Master’s Degree in Conservation Biology at CMU. Aside from taking a course in biological statistics at CMUBS this summer, he is also taking part in field studies of the island’s wetlands and inland lakes.
“Something like this allows you to gain hands on experience while getting to know your professor and classmates in ways that just cannot be done while back on campus,” Langer said. “It’s hands down the most rewarding experience I have had as a college student.”
The James C. Gillingham Academic Center, the building for undergraduate study at the station, is equipped with a computer lab, a library, three classrooms and a small, 120-seat lecture hall. The station’s 130-acre campus also includes the research building, which houses eight laboratories and a state-of-the-art mesocosm facility, which is used to isolate natural areas for environmental study.
In addition to providing field experience for biology students, the station works to solve environmental issues on the island. Researchers are planning to investigate the possible contamination of the island’s inland lakes. The study will analyze how contaminants could affect local fisherman and try to find a solution if necessary.
CMUBS also offers a pre-freshman course called BIO 100z. Beaver Island resident Meghan Works was one of the local high school students to take the course this year.
“We got to do a lot of field work,” Works said. “Instead of just talking about things, we were actually able to go out and apply what we learned in class.”