National Park Contributions to the History of Science Graduate Student Symposium

National Park Contributions to the History of Science

Graduate Student Symposium Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, 12:00 – 2:00 EST

John Muir Room, Dept of the Interior Building

Off-site? Register for the webinar:

What do the hot springs of Yellowstone, the plant communities of Indiana Dunes, and the Pleistocene fossils of Tule Springs have in common? They have all yielded discoveries that significantly shaped the history and development of scientific disciplines. And it’s not just that those discoveries tell us something important about the parks where they happened. They tell us something important about the broader world and how to study it further.

Many national parks have played important roles in the history of science. Researchers who studied them opened new lines of inquiry, constructed influential theories that explain patterns and processes, inspired generations of researchers, launched technologies that affect our lives today, and even won Nobel Prizes. Their stories reveal parks as part of our intellectual heritage and intrigue us in new and sometimes unexpected ways. But the stories are rarely told.

Come hear young scientists — graduate students from the Univ. of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Univ. of Maryland College Park, and Univ. of Maryland Baltimore County — tell some of these stories and reflect on how digging into the history of science has connected them to their parks.

There will be 9 presentations followed by Q&A. The following times are approximate:

  • 12:00 Yellowstone: How a bacterium in a hot spring launched a billion-dollar industry
  • 12:10 Acadia: Testing a hypothesis about how species can co-exist
  • 12:20 Saguaro: How the environment influences distribution and abundance of plants
  • 12:30 Great Smoky Mountains: Plant communities and influences on their distribution
  • 12:40 Boston Harbor Islands: What determines the structure of intertidal invertebrate communities
  • 12:50 Everglades: Food webs and the carbon cycle in natural ecosystems
  • 1:00 Rocky Mountain: How terrestrial ecosystems respond to airborne nitrogen deposition
  • 1:10 Yellowstone: How wildfire can shape habitat diversity on a landscape
  • 1:20 Grand Canyon: Why flooding is important for river ecosystems

Contact: Tim Watkins, National Park Service,

A PDF version of this announcement can be found here.