Science Symposia

Boston Harbor Islands Science Symposium

Periodically the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership gathers together researchers to share what they are learning with each other, with park managers, and with the public.
2017 Science Symposium (Northeastern University)
The 2017 Science Symposium was held April 11th and 12th at Northeastern University.

2011 Science Symposium (Harvard Kennedy School)

The 2011 Boston Harbor Islands Symposium was held on October 19th at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. The event, fourth in a series since the park area's birth in 1996, brought together scientists from a wide range of disciplines to share recent discoveries about the park's ecosystems and natural processes.

Presentations throughout the day highlighted the islands' geological future, the role of citizen-scientists, and the 6-year "exploring the microwilderness" ATBI project through which over 1,400 species have been catalogued. Abstracts from the presentations are available online.

The afternoon concluded with a panel discussion led by Dr. Michael Soukup on the park area's role in research and learning. Closing remarks were given by NPS Regional Chief Scientist Mary Foley and were followed by a reception, at which Dr. Brian Farrell of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology presented a keynote lecture on biodiversity discovery in the islands and beyond.


2008 Science Symposium (UMass-Boston)

The 2008 Boston Harbor Islands Science Symposium was held at the University of Massachusetts-Boston on October 3, 2008. The event highlighted research from the islands and surrounding waters, ranging from insects in the "micro-wilderness" to breeding birds, eroding drumlins, tracking intertidal organisms to determine the effects of sea level rise, and an update on water quality indicators. Presentation abstracts give a sense of the symposium.

After the presentations, Superintendent Bruce Jacobson led a discussion about research needs in the park. The day was capped off with a panel discussion, "Addressing Nature Deficit Disorder." Closing remarks were given by Beth Johnson. Special thanks to our Urban Harbors Institute hosts.

Interviews with those involved in the symposium provide a closer look at the event and its outcomes, the park and its relationship to the public, and the research being done at Boston Harbor Islands:

  • Jack Wiggin - Executive Director, Urban Harbors Institute
  • Marc Albert - Stewardship Program Manager, Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
  • Bruce Jacobson - Superintendent, Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

2003 Science Symposium (Museum of Science)

The October 2003 Boston Harbor Islands Science Symposium was held at the Boston Museum of Science. Following an introduction by Ellen Roy Herzfelder, Chair of Boston Harbor Islands Partnership, Bruce Jacobson and Robin Snyder of National Park Service presented "The Role of Scientific Inquiry in National Parks and Other Protected Areas." The day then progressed through a series of presentations and posters highlighting current research. The keyonte "Islands: Sanctuaries, Laboratories and Classrooms of Biodiversity" presented by Edward O. Wilson, Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, was the final item on the agenda. A series of fieldtrips was also available to those who attended the Symposium.

Several studies highlighted at the symposium were published in a special issue of the Northeastern Naturalist (Vol. 12, Special Issue 3, 2005). See "Abstracts" for articles in that special issue, along with abstracts of Symposium presentations and posters.


2002 Science Symposium (MIT)

During Biodiversity Days 2002 (May 30-June 3), the public was invited to explore the rich diversity of life of Boston Harbor Islands national park area. We offered a mainland seminar, and field trips in Hull and on the Boston Harbor Islands.

The day-long Biodiversity Seminar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology brought together scientists studying the Boston Harbor Islands and park managers. It was a precursor to the 2003 Science Symposium. Speakers included Gary Davis, National Park Service Scientist from Channel Islands National Park in California, and Bob Durand, Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs. Proceedings of the May 2002 seminar were published by MIT Sea Grant (contact us for a copy).

Last updated: November 23, 2021

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