Island Ecology Program marks its 25th year


The university’s Island Ecology Program celebrates its 25th session this summer, marked by both change and continuity. Professors Tim Keith-Lucas and Bran Potter—the two original faculty members in the program—both will teach in it again this year, along with Martin Knoll, Ken Smith, and Kirk Zigler. Four visiting faculty members and one staff person will assist them.

In summer 2012, following Keith-Lucas’s retirement, program co-directors will be professors Ken Smith (Forestry and Geology) and Kirk Zigler (Biology).

Island Ecology Program Faculty(Left to right, Keith-Lucas, Smith, Potter, Zigler)

The interdisciplinary summer field school is held on St. Catherine's Island, an undeveloped barrier island off the coast of Georgia, where the university has use of a new laboratory and classroom built by the St. Catherine's Island Foundation. Almost 250 Sewanee students have completed the program, which has four sections: geology/hydrology; plant communities; invertebrate and marine zoology; and wildlife ecology. The program is open to students from all academic majors and interests, and successful participants have included majors in subjects as diverse as philosophy, theater, chemistry, and political science.

Students in the program engage in short research projects and come to understand how the ecology of the island functions from the perspective of each academic discipline. The experience emphasizes the interdependence of the various disciplines by exploring how the fragile ecosystem of the island functions. The long history of short studies means that several have been published as longitudinal studies by students who have updated earlier work.

For a closer look at the Island Ecology Program, go to this story from the Fall 2006 issue of Sewanee magazine.

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