Director’s Letters

Paintbrush Photo by Benjamin Blonder

Director’s Letter May 2020

Field scientists enjoy studying evolution in the field but are less excited to be in the middle of it themselves. Gothic will be different this summer! Having operated through the Great Depression and World World II, RMBL curates one of the largest collections of long-term field studies. The show goes on!
RMBL has received approval for an operating plan from public health that will allow us to house scientists in Gothic. We are eliminating shared bedrooms, so we will operate at about two-thirds capacity. To minimize having a scientist re-introducing the virus to Gunnison County and to keep the virus from spreading within Gothic, we will have aggressive containment procedures. We will require scientists to self-isolate for 7 days upon arrival, conduct daily symptom-monitoring, and use face masks.

Fox Kit Blumstein

Director’s Letter April 2020

Scientific detectives are pointing to the pangolin as a key puzzle piece in understanding the biological tragedy that has killed tens of thousands, thrown millions out of their jobs, and stranded even more in their homes.  Covered entirely in scales, pangolins are the least cuddly mammal.  Lacking teeth, they use tongues as long as their [...]
SFA project - RMBL (Rocky Mountain Biological Lab), East River Catchment - Crested Butte, Colorado..Earth Sciences Division and their collaborators from the DOE Joint Genome Institute.explore the East River Basin and Rocky Mountain Biology Laboratory (RMBL.org) in Colorado as a field site for studies that would characterize hydrology, geology, mineralogy, microbiology and genomics of the watershed scale response to climate change.  These studies are subsumed under Berkeley Lab's "Microbes to Biomes" initiative and the Sustainable Systems Scientific Focus Area (SFA) 2.0, supported under the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Climate and Environmental Sciences Division...

Director’s Letter March 2020

What does it mean to support field scientists and students in the year of Coronavirus?  As soon as we figure it out, we will let you know! With one of the highest rates of infection in Colorado, the local school, ski resort, hotels and short-term rentals are closed.  Most flights have been cancelled and restaurants [...]
RMBL sunset

Director’s Letter February 2020

Having met my wife and raised two boys in Gothic, the subject of families at RMBL is dear to my heart.   Jennie and I had a typical RMBL romance (and you can read another story of family and science in the adjoining article), wandering across years, states and universities, as we narrowed in on how [...]
Sunrise on Redrock in the winter after large snowstorm black and white_(1)

Director’s Letter January 2020

A Gothic winter is magical and RMBL is expanding opportunities for students of all ages to experience it. When the snow starts to fall, the larger world fades away.  A typical year brings 40 feet of snow, covering one-story buildings with a white, smooth blanket of snow.  The snow came so fast in one storm [...]
Peggy Quarles, Gothic in Summer Snow banner

Director’s Letter December 2019

Philanthropy makes it possible for us to reach undergraduates who otherwise would never make it to Gothic.  In 2019 we provided approximately $150,000 in financial awards to students, equivalent to full rides for 20 students, or half of the 40 students we host.  For a society in which children have fewer opportunities to grow up [...]
SFA project - RMBL (Rocky Mountain Biological Lab), East River Catchment - Crested Butte, Colorado..Earth Sciences Division and their collaborators from the DOE Joint Genome Institute.explore the East River Basin and Rocky Mountain Biology Laboratory (RMBL.org) in Colorado as a field site for studies that would characterize hydrology, geology, mineralogy, microbiology and genomics of the watershed scale response to climate change.  These studies are subsumed under Berkeley Lab's "Microbes to Biomes" initiative and the Sustainable Systems Scientific Focus Area (SFA) 2.0, supported under the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Climate and Environmental Sciences Division...

Director’s Letter November 2019

RMBL relies upon donations to operate.  Scientists and students all pay to be at RMBL.  But we maintain 70+ buildings in a harsh environment almost 2 miles above sea level.  The elevation is a double whammy.  Not only does almost 40 feet of snow beat up the cabins, but Gothic is closed for half the […]

Gothic Mountain with FAll Snow 9.23.16 Nathaniel Ley

Directors Letter October 2019

Dr. Rosemary Carroll is following the lifecycle of a snowflake.  We can’t use a slow motion camera to watch a snowflake as it falls onto Schofield Pass in deep winter, and then trace it underground before it eventually makes its way back into the East River and through a fish.  But Rosemary uses isotopes, different […]

VOC Cosima. Volunteer and Gothic

Director’s Letter September 2019

It’s a small thing, but it makes me proud.  In early September Volunteer Outdoor Colorado (VOC) visited Gothic and reworked the Judd Falls Trail (see the adjoining article).  One of the most heavily used recreation areas, the previous trail was not “designed”.  It “emerged” as people scrambled through rocks and picked their way, occasionally through […]

PIC-2018-YP-RMBL-EcoSTEM 403 Group Jump

Director’s Letter August 2019

With your support, RMBL is investing in youth science. 30 years ago, RMBL started Kid’s Nature Camp. We now focus the program on science and formalized that transition in 2016 by renaming it Youth Science Programs. In 2001, we had 190 summer contact days with younger children. By 2018 we had over 1700 youth contact […]

Annual Temperature Warming stripes USA Cropped

Director’s Letter – July 2019

The phrase “climate change” evokes a range of responses.  For many, climate change is a defining challenge; will our society be able to maintain the ecosystem services that underlie food, water, and human health?  For others, the words invoke confusion, disagreement, or even weariness. Oddly, for a subject that is so tied up in complicated [...]
sunny summit 715x300

Director’s Letter – June 2019

Biologists are learning that to understand life, we need to understand teams. Your body is composed of a series of teams. Only half the cells in your body are human. The other half are bacterial, viral, and fungal. We used to think that these non-human cells were invaders.

Erin Gothic Image (002 700px)

Director’s Letter – May 2019

If you are old enough to have been lost, you can appreciate how quickly mapping technology is changing field science.  It wasn’t that long ago that my trips involved stacks of maps and my shaky sense of location.  Now, a swipe of my smartphone keeps my trip stress free.

students at RMBL

Directors Letter April 2019

The importance of a Gothic summer to individuals is clear. We assess and track students, and they describe RMBL as “unforgettable”, “life-changing”, “once in a lifetime experience”, and “the best thing that has happened throughout my academic career”.

Avery Hummingbird Jacob Heiling - Directors Letter Image

Director’s Letter – March 2019

Hummingbird research captures why RMBL’s plans to archive historic data are so important.

People sitting by a lake and mountains

Director’s Letter – February 2019

Family and community are at the heart of what makes RMBL special. It is tempting to think of scientists as lonely figures in white lab coats working late at night amongst test tubes and beakers. But there are as many ways of being a scientist as there are scientists. Many RMBL scientists bring their families to Gothic year after year, and the importance of family and community at RMBL has a big impact on our science.

Gothic-Lupines-Crested-Butte-1

Director’s Letter – January 2019

Last year the RMBL Board of Trustees adopted a new vision:  To unleash the power of place to transform how we understand the world and provide the scientific knowledge needed to maintain the environmental processes that support food security, air and water quality, and human health.  This month we are launching a new communications effort with this newsletter.