Science Story April 2023

Special ops

Brett Biebuyck grew up exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the lush landmass flanked by three of the Great Lakes and filled with dense forests, diverse wildlife, and spectacular waterfalls, among other natural wonders. From a young age he became hardwired with wilderness wanderlust. Not surprisingly, after graduating from high school, he went straight to Alaska, where he earned his degree in history and northern studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Beckoned by an even more remote wilderness, Brett found himself in the Arctic supporting researchers at the Toolik Field Station operated by the University’s Institute of Arctic Biology. Being there not only taught Brett about how field stations worked but also aroused his curiosity about their origins and history. The more he researched field stations, the more he heard about a unique one in the Rockies called RMBL.

Brett was attracted to RMBL for several reasons. He was intrigued by its independence and the flexibility afforded by the absence of control by an academic institution. The remote nature of RMBL appealed to him as well, and the temperate climate was a plus. Gunnison Valley is blessed with four seasons and an abundance of sunshine. In the Arctic, the sun sets in November and doesn’t rise again until late January. At the time Brett was looking into other field stations, he had a family to consider. In this capacity, RMBL has always been a welcoming environment for families, both seasonally and culturally.

So it is that in 2020, Brett became RMBL’s Director of Administration. While this is his title, in practical terms he functions as a guru of operations. He and his team oversee the nuts and bolts of housing, food service, and the health and safety of RMBL researchers, whose number swells to 180 in the peak summer season. His team coordinates housing assignments and logistics, meets the needs of a diverse collection of scientists, and facilitates the processes that keep the community connected. Over the winter, they designed a new online portal for researchers and staff.

In addition to the geographical attraction of Gothic, RMBL has a compelling history that Brett is keen to explore. While he was working in the Arctic, he recalls being fascinated with the stories of Alaska Natives. At RMBL, between the silver miners of the 1800s and the Ute people who have occupied the land for centuries, he has plenty of historical ground to cover.

We hope that Brett is as eager to share his historical discoveries as he is to make them.


Brett Biebuyck, Director of Administration for RMBL, has been drawn to the natural world and remote areas since his childhood spent in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. At 18, he went to Alaska for college and adventure. For 17 years, he supported research and education at Toolik Field Station in Arctic Alaska, becoming the Associate Director of Operations and Finance. In 2020, Brett, his wife Leah, and two sons, Sam (9) and Teddy (6), moved to Crested Butte. They enjoy spending their time participating in youth hockey, riding bikes, and camping.