November 2022 E Newsletter

the power of PLACE

Head and heart

Only through the bringing together of head and heart- intelligence and goodness- shall man rise to a fulfillment of his true nature. From Love in Action, Martin Luther King, Jr.

RMBL has a responsibility to evaluate the success of our education programs. In spending 10 weeks in Gothic, students give us the greatest gift, the gift of time. We have an obligation to the faculty that send students; a bad summer experience can turn a student off science forever. For science educators who measure success by sparking careers in the sciences, such a loss is painful. The National Science Foundation should support other science training programs if they are better than ours, just as private supporters have a plethora of opportunities to support education, churches, social causes, and the environment.

My heart tells me that our programs matter. Students fill our dining hall with laughter, creativity, and engaged conversation. They engage in our community of scholars and embrace opportunities to climb mountains, bird-watch, and wander new ecosystems, from the depths of the Black Canyon to alpine meadows. Students come back, sometimes for lifetimes and sometimes after an absence of decades. They tell us about the importance of a summer in Gothic to their lives and when I see them pointing out to their partner and children the cabin they stayed in, I have no doubt about the impact RMBL had.

My head agrees. When we survey students, they tell us that a summer in Gothic is one of the more meaningful experiences from their college career. Indeed, many students from non-research institutions tell us it is the most important experience of their college career in terms of science.


Ian Billick - Director RMBL

Ian Billick | PhD
Executive Director, RMBL


Jocelyn Navarro at RMBL

Cultivating scientists

Jocelyn Navarro grew up in Pomona, a city in southern California. She’s the daughter of Mexican immigrants whose highest level of education was elementary school. So who could have imagined that she would one day pursue a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology? Actually, her parents could. Highly attuned to nature, they nurtured Jocelyn’s fascination with plants throughout her childhood.

She says that her parents’ yard is filled with “tons” of herbs, citrus and fruit trees, and roughly 20 species of cactus. A child with intuitively scientific curiosity, Jocelyn kept notes on when flowers bloomed, how much fruit plants produced, and when the fruit ripened. One of her chores was watering the plants. “I always asked my dad why I was instructed to water some plants more and others less. He would tell me, ‘I don’t know, but if you do well in school, you can go to college and learn why,’” she says.

That she did, and when she got to Connecticut College in New London, CT, she found answers to many of her questions about plants in science courses. A five-day field trip she took in September 2017 with the Ecological Society of America’s SEEDS program introduced her to RMBL. Amazed at the fall colors in the Valley, the historic cabins of Gothic, and the sheer abundance of world-renowned research taking place, she promised herself she would return.