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Digging up the Past
Paleoecology & the Bay


Pioneer in Paleoecology

Taking a core sample by boat - by Skip Brown We often hear that sound management of the Chesapeake Bay is based on "good science." On the other hand, we seldom hear very much about the scientists themselves, many of whom have spent years, decades, even their entire adult lives tracking what to many of us would seem very narrow parts of the universe. In this issue of Chesapeake Quarterly we focus on one of those scientists, Grace Brush, who has taken the long view -- the history of the Bay's ecosystem as recorded in the pages of its sediments.Buried in the Bay: Seeds of Change delves into the science of paleoecology as it follows Brush into the field in search of ancient traces of Pfiesteria piscicida, a potentially toxic microorganism virtually unknown until the 1980s.

Brush has been part of another aspect of history as well in her determination to become a researcher at a time when few women were encouraged to join the ranks of serious scientists. The Core of a Life chronicles Brush's career from college studies in Nova Scotia to advanced education in Chicago and at Harvard University, and details how she managed to establish a significant career and raise a family despite the obstacles. Today things have changed �³ percentages of women graduating from college and enrolling in graduate school have risen sharply -- a trend evident in Brush's two female graduate assistants. Despite these advances, some argue that barriers remain -- often quite subtle -- for women who pursue long-term careers in the world of scientific research.

The pipeline of well-trained women in science-based careers has improved considerably -- an important factor has been the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and locally administered by Maryland Sea Grant (see Mentoring Tomorrow's Scientists). Over fourteen years, women have generally made up more than half of each summer's class of undergraduates who have come to work directly with researchers at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the Academy of Natural Science Estuarine Research Center. Many of them have gone on to graduate work in the marine sciences.

In coming issues of Chesapeake Quarterly we will continue to examine the contributions of researchers who have helped us better understand the Chesapeake Bay. As we confront a number of complex challenges -- the control of non-native species of fish and shellfish and the use of increasingly sophisticated computer models to help manage Bay restoration -- we will continue to rely on the hard work of dedicated researchers and scholars who have devoted their lives to the study of the coast and its complex natural environment.

- The Editors

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