Month: September 2015

ECWG September 19, 2015 evening with Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, MED 81

ECWG September 19, 2015 evening with Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, MED 81

ECWG members and guests enjoyed an evening with Dr Kathryn Sullivan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of NOAA, on Saturday the 19th (2015) at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC.

“Looking at Earth: From Astronaut Photos to Environmental Intelligence”

First American woman to walk in space.
First American woman to walk in space.

Distinguished scientist and renowned astronaut Dr. Kathryn Sullivan has made a living out of looking at Earth. As the current Under Secretary of Commerce for  Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Sullivan champions the study of our planet for the betterment of our nation and the global community. Dr. Sullivan will speak to her fascination with exploration, including the 1984 shuttle mission on which she became the first American woman to walk in space and her current work leading the nation’s premier environmental intelligence agency.

About Our Speaker:

From a Million Miles Away, a joint NASA, NOAA, & USAF project: Moon Crossing Face of Earth.
From a Million Miles Away, a joint NASA, NOAA, & USAF project: Moon Crossing Face of Earth.

Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, MED 81 oceanographer and former astronaut, is NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) first assistant secretary for environmental observation and predication (May 3, 2011). Dr. Sullivan oversees NOAA’s integrated earth observation and environmental modeling enterprise and the descriptive and predictive services that rely on this enterprise.



Dr. Sullivan previously served as NOAA’s chief scientist from 1993-1996, overseeing a wide variety of research programs. After leaving NOAA in 1996 she served as president and CEO of Ohio’s Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio, and promoted scientific education through the Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy at the Ohio State University’s John Glenn Center for Public Affairs.

Astronaut Kathryn Sullivan during spacewalk, October, 1084.
Astronaut Kathryn Sullivan during spacewalk, October, 1084.

As an astronaut in the space shuttle program, Dr. Sullivan flew on three shuttle missions, including the mission that launched the Hubble Space Telescope. Her NASA research focus was in remote sensing, and she was the co-investigator on several innovative earth observation experiments.In 1984 Sullivan became the first American woman to walk in space.



Jason-2 satellite measures sea surface height for determining ocean circulation, sea level rise, and wave height.
Jason-2 satellite measures sea surface height for determining ocean circulation, sea level rise, and wave height.

Dr. Sullivan was appointed a member of the National Science Board in November 2004, and served on the Pew Oceans Commission, whose report, “America’s Living Oceans: Charting a Course for Sea Change” remains an important ocean policy reference. She remains active in professional organization in both the oceanographic and aerospace communities.


Dr. Sullivan earned her doctorate in geology from Dalhouise University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1978, and her bachelor of science degree in Earth sciences from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1973. She has been honored with the National Science Board’s Public Service Award, and is a member of the Astronaut Hall of Fame and a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

When:     Saturday, September 19th, 2015
Time:      6:00 – 9:00 PM
Where:   Cosmos Club
2121 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Cost:       $55 per person for set meal
RSVP:     Bill Runyon
1812 19th St.NW, Washington, DC 20009 917 744-4210
RSVP no later than: Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Number of vegetarian meals (if any) desired _______________________________________
Organization Affiliation if other than ECWG

Number of dinners @ $55 each ______________
Enclosed is a check for $ _______ Make check payable to ECWG
No cancellations will be accepted after Tuesday evening, September 15, 2015
Forthcoming 2015 ECWG Dinners at the Cosmos Club: November 21, December 5.

Explorer Club Washington Group website:

Five grantees receive ECWG exploration research awards for 2015

Five grantees receive ECWG exploration research awards for 2015


Grace Capshaw, University of Maryland, Biology. “Hearing in caves: auditory evolution in cave-adapted lungless salamanders (family Plethodontidae)”, Tennessee.

Animals rely on sensory information to respond to environmental stimuli and to guide behavior. Selective pressures influence sensory evolution to facilitate detection of stimuli within the constraints of the environment; however, the extent of sensory variation in closely related animals that occupy different habitats remains poorly understood. This project will examine the auditory system of plethodontid salamanders living under different sensory constraints, specifically cave salamanders and their surface dwelling relatives. The plethodontid family represents a unique opportunity to study auditory evolution independent of vocal communication because it is species rich, widely distributed, and displays high ecological diversity in habitat use. Comparative analysis of auditory variation in species living under different levels of environmental constraint may reveal the selective pressures that induce sensory adaptation. The proposed work will address questions of sensory variation and adaptation within an ecologically-relevant framework and will generate conclusions pertaining to environmental influence on auditory evolution.


Madeleine Gunter, William and Mary, Anthropology. “Settlement stability and floodplain dynamism: A geoarchaeology study of ‘persistent places’ in the Virginia Piedmont”, Virginia.

This project combines geological and archaeological methods to examine the long-term settlement histories of Siouan-speaking Native communities in Virginia’s Dan River drainage between AD 800—1600. Invoking Schlanger’s (1992) concept of “persistent places,” locales made meaningful through their occupation and reoccupation through time, this research seeks to understand why Piedmont communities reoccupied floodplain village sites along the Dan and its tributaries—despite environmental and sociopolitical disadvantages (annual flooding, proximity to hostile groups from the North). By extracting and analyzing a series of sediment cores from across the site’s main floodplain, this project seeks to contextualize the site’s various archaeological features–evidence of relatively stable occupation–within the region’s dynamic fluvial history. Though regionally and methodologically focused, this project is significant because it joins a broader conversation about the nature of human/environment interaction that seeks to understand how past humans shaped, and were shaped by, the landscapes on which they lived.

Melanie Jackson, University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science. “Determining the effect of ammonium on algal community composition and physiology in the Anacostia River in Washington DC”, District of Columbia.

It is well known that that the Anacostia River has poor water quality based on its history of toxins and pathogens; however, nutrient pollution, primarily in the form of nitrogen (N) has been less well recognized. In coastal ecosystems in general, nutrient pollution is known to lead to eutrophication and increased hypoxia and abundance of harmful algal bloom species. Excess N is one of the major pollution problems in the Anacostia River, largely due to sewage effluent and combined sewer overflows from both effluent and storm water runoff. This project aims to assess the sources and fates of N forms in the Anacostia River and their relationship with algal blooms. Anacostia River sampling will be combined with experiments involving enrichments with NH4+ and NO3 to evaluate the impact of N loads and forms on phytoplankton species composition and productivity. Considering the growing number and increasing frequency of harmful algal blooms worldwide, this research has implications for food web structure and productivity of coastal estuaries.

Chrisandra Kufeldt, George Washington University, Human Biology. “Does dental microstructure carry a phylogenetic signal?”, Arizona, Massachusetts, United Kingdom.

Sound hypotheses about phylogenetic relationships are necessary for understanding the comparative context of the evolutionary changes that have occurred within the hominin lineage. This project will combine a new suite of morphological characters derived from dental microstructure to test the efficacy of hard tissue characters for recovering evolutionary relationships among great apes and monkeys whose phylogeny is well established from genetic evidence. The objective of this study is to conduct a comprehensive study of enamel growth in primate samples in order to produce data to use in a phylogenetic analysis. The study sample suite for this project includes previously collected and sectioned thin sections of mandibular molars from great apes and species of both old world and new world monkeys. . Demonstrating the efficacy of these methods with a new suite of characters in a comparative context is critical for future application to the hominin fossil record, this is important considering paleoanthropology remains one of the few fields without reliable phylogenetic hypotheses


Joeva Rock, American University, Anthropology. “Sankofa: Utilizing traditional agricultural practice for modern development”, Ghana.

Food and farming are inherently social processes, but changes in agricultural practice in Ghana are changing ecological and cultural landscapes. As a result, Ghanaian farmers are opting out of cash-crop development schemes and instead turning to sustainable subsistence farming that draws on socio-cultural agricultural knowledge. The usefulness of local knowledge is contested. While some argue that it ought to be crucial a component of agricultural development, others disagree over the viability of the use of local knowledge and small-scale farms to meet modern needs. This project explores how Ghanaians define and pursue sustainable, culturally-relevant agricultural practice. Ethnographic research will be conducted in the Ghanaian capital of Accra and based out of the offices of ILK, a Ghanaian agricultural organization. This project employs two core methods: 1) participant observation at ILK to understand how sustainability and cultural values are defined and integrated in to practice, and 2) semi-structured interviews with farmers and with key actors in Ghanaian agricultural policy and programming spheres. By approaching agricultural development beyond production and consumption, and instead establishing food as a cultural cornerstone, this project will aid in designing and maintaining truly sustainable development interventions.

Historic tribute Ceremony in honor of Jim Fowler: Oct. 1, NYC, blacktie+

Historic tribute Ceremony in honor of Jim Fowler: Oct. 1, NYC, blacktie+

As a historic organization, steeped in tradition, The Explorers Club honors Jim Fowler with our highest ceremonial event – The Tribute. In honor of this individual, who has given so much to our organization, we shall gather together at the Clubhouse in our finest regalia and offer tribute and honor to one of our own – an individual who has distinguished himself in the annals of Club history.

6:00 – 7:30 pm
All members and guests gather in the 2nd floor library for a Buffet, Dessert and Cocktails. Weather permitting, the terrace will be open.

7:30 pm
The Tributee party adjourns to the Members Lounge. Tributors remain in the 2nd floor library for a glass of brandy or port, and reading of the Rites of Passage.

7:45 – 10:00 pm
Members take their specified places along the grand stairway holding lit candles. The lights are dimmed, and the bell from the cutter Bear is rung in a slow and solemn manner. Tributors chant the name of the Tributee in unison with the bell. Jim Fowler proceeds up the stairway followed by members in order of seniority. All take seats in the Great Hall before a blazing Great Fire of Exploration. Members rise one by one, take a glass of port or brandy (or water if absolutely necessary), and give a spirited, stirring, humorous (and hopefully somewhat coherent) Tribute to one of our most beloved members.

10:00 – 10:15 pm
Tributee Fowler then rises and responds in a like fashion.

10:15 – 11:00 pm
Tributee Fowler then exits the Great Hall and leads the procession to the 2nd floor library for an adjourning beverage.

Date: October 1st, 2015

Location: Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021

Member Ticket Price: $65

Reservation Notes:

This event requires White / Black Tie or Native Dress, with Medals & Decorations encouraged.

To clarify, this event is open to Members Only.  The event is expected to sell out, and as such, there are no invited guests. Should there be openings, spouses of members will be given priority.

To make a reservation please or call the Club at 212-628-8383 by Monday, September 28, 2015

Cancellation/”No Show” Policy:

* If a reservation is canceled after Monday, September 28th, there will be No Refund of the ticket price.
* There are no refunds for a “No Show” to a catered event.