June 2024 Newsletter

the power of PLACE


“It is the beginning of wisdom when you recognize that the best you can do is choose which rules you want to live by, and it’s persistent and aggravated imbecility to pretend you can live without any.”

(From All the Little Live Things, Wallace Stegner)

Despite fear of judgement, I admit that the cleanliness of my windshields makes me nervous. As someone who prefers a low maintenance lifestyle, an absence of bug spatters has much to recommend it. However, like the grinding sound from my bike’s bottom bracket or the mold in my coffee machine, despite my strategy to maintain a nirvana-like state of blissful ignorance, there is a lingering sense that things are not right.

With the topic involving multiple articles in the Washington Post, I am not alone in my lingering anxiety around a lack of bug spatters. Indeed, there is little uncertainty that an insect Armageddon would not be good. One study estimates the economic value of insects to pollination, cleaning, nutrition, and pest control to be on the order of tens of billions of dollars. The world is a poorer place, literally, without insects, not just aesthetically but economically!

Ian Billick - Director RMBL

Ian Billick | PhD
Executive Director, RMBL


Melanie Kazenel

Small climates, big questions

Small climates, big questions

Dr. Kazenel first came to Gothic in 2013 as a student in RMBL’s Education Program. She did what nearly everyone else does when they first encounter RMBL. She fell in love — with the mountains, the science, and just about everything else. Then she came back in 2014 and 2015 to do her master’s degree research, advised by RMBL alumna Dr. Jennifer Rudgers. In 2022, she earned her PhD in biology with Jennifer Rudgers and Dr. Kenneth Whitney as advisors, studying bees in desert ecosystems of New Mexico.

Then in 2022, she applied for and received a position as a postdoctoral researcher with the RMBL Phenology Project, where she worked with Dr. Becky Irwin, an RMBL scientist who has been monitoring bee populations near Gothic since 2009.

As fate would have it, Dr. Kazenel got a faculty position at Earlham College in Richmond, IN, teaching such courses as ecological biology, biological diversity, and field botany. Now she has come back to RMBL as a Principal Investigator with students working as research assistants, and she mentors a student through the RMBL Education Program.