Category: Events

2019 Exploration and Field Research Grant Recipients

2019 Exploration and Field Research Grant Recipients

So Hyun Ahn (Ph.D.), University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Laboratory, “The broadening of the window of opportunity for harmful algal blooms in the Yellow Sea, China”, China
Globally, harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been increasing in frequency, magnitude and geographic extent. The coast of the China is one of the world’s regions most affected by HABs and eutrophication, a state where excess nutrients induce excessive algal growth, which may result in oxygen depletion of the water body. In the Yellow Sea, China, there have been not only increases in HABs, but there have also been shifts in non-HAB algae as well, especially heavily silicified diatoms. These diatoms lock up dissolved silica, preventing its seasonal dissolution, in turn enhancing the window of opportunity for growth of non-diatom HAB species to accumulate in summer. This project will focus on the HAB species in conjunction with an ongoing project which targets the biology of these heavily silicified diatoms. The identification of HAB taxa will be performed using high performance liquid chromatography as well as microscopy during seasonal, summer sampling in the Yellow Sea. In addition, studies will be undertaken for the physiological understanding of HAB species and their relationship with changing environment and other organisms. This research will augment ongoing research on HABs in Chesapeake Bay with the aim to develop predictive models of HAB dynamics.

Martin Aucoin (M.A.), West Virginia University, Geography and Geology, “Leave now, build later: exploring the relationship between migration and development in The Gambia, West Africa”, The Gambia
Recent development projects in The Gambia, West Africa, employ economic development strategies to reduce the out-migration of young men to work abroad. Such projects have been largely unsuccessful and out-migration has increased. This project examines the complex reasons young Gambian men choose to migrate abroad to work and explores the relationship between economic development and international migration. Drawing from literature in geography and migration studies, alternate narratives of migration in The Gambia will be studied, and how Gambian returnees actively engage with development in their communities will be quantified. This stage of the project will take place in the city of Banjul, the capital of The Gambia, from where most emigrants leave the nation. Interviews and participant observation will be conducted returned migrants in The Gambia. Further research is planned with members of the diaspora in Philadelphia, a city with a large number of Gambians living abroad. This research will contribute to the scholarship in geography and migration studies examining the relationship between development and international migration and has policy implications for organizations operating in The Gambia and for development agencies in the United States.

Naomi Becker (Ph.D.), Johns Hopkins University, Earth and Planetary Sciences, “Processes and timescales for the development of a convergent plate margin: an investigation into the origin of oceanic rocks along the Appalachians”, Alabama, Georgia
The theory of plate tectonics provides a framework for understanding modern geological processes. According to the theory, continents ‘drift’ over geological timescales, rearranging as a result of the birth and death of oceans, which, in geological terms, are only transient features. Despite decades of research on plate tectonic processes, the mechanisms that initiate the creation and subsequent destruction of oceans remain poorly understood. The Appalachian Mountains stretch from Alabama to Newfoundland and record a full supercontinent cycle resulting from the birth and death of a precursor ocean to the Atlantic, the Iapetus. Samples of Iapetan oceanic crust are preserved within the Appalachian system and have radiometric ages that cluster around 490 million years. This project will test the hypothesis that these rocks represent the onset of the tectonic process of subduction, which led to closure of the Iapetus Ocean. Samples will be collected from across the Appalachians, and geochemical analysis performed to investigate their potential formation within a nascent subduction zone. The focus for the initial study will be an oceanic tract in Alabama and Georgia known as the Dadeville Complex, which will be mapped and sampled for subsequent geochemical characterization work.

Nicolas Amin Hazzi (Ph.D.), George Washington University, Biological Sciences, “Systematics, Evolution and Biogeography of the Tropical Wandering Spiders (Ctenidae)”, Columbia
The study will address the diversity and the evolution of the wandering spiders (Ctenidae) in the Neotropical region. In Colombia, prior to the peace agreement between the government and the FARC-EP guerrilla at the end of 2016, many areas with high species diversity were inaccessible for biological studies. During more than 50 years of war, knowledge of a large important portion of Colombian´s biodiversity was hindered. Field collections will be made in unexplored areas such as the Chocó biodiversity hotspot and the Amazonian region, where members of this family are restricted to pristine forests and can reach their highest species richness. DNA sequences and morphological examination will allow the discovery of new species and the reconstruction of an evolutionary tree of Neotropical co-distributed ctenid genera. Based on this tree, a biogeographic analysis will be used to test geographic diversification hypotheses that help to explain how the geological and climatic events in the past influence the evolution and distribution of ctenids in the Neotropics. The goals are to discover new species in these unexplored areas, to expand knowledge of the geographic distribution of ctenids and to obtain an evolutionary framework to test hypotheses of diversification in the Neotropics. Data collected will be important in the development of conservation strategies prior to interest in these areas for agriculture and industry.

Edward Andrew Hobbs, Jr. (M.S.), University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, “Controls on nitrous oxide distribution and air-sea flux in estuarine waters”, Maryland
Nitrous oxide (N2O) has a greenhouse gas potential ~300 times greater than carbon dioxide and is produced in estuaries via biogeochemical processes. Despite the importance of this gas, there is still a large knowledge gap regarding N2O distributions and controls in polluted waters. Excessive nutrients in estuaries alter water column oxygen, impacting biogeochemical rates within the nitrogen cycle and affecting N2O availability. The goal of this project is to measure N2O availability and air-water flux across a range of environments to better understand the role of estuaries in producing N2O. Study sites include Rock Creek, a tidal tributary to the Patapsco River (Maryland) where an engineered aeration system has been operating since 1988, which can be turned off to simulate ecosystem-scale deoxygenation and its impact on N2O availability. N2O will also be measured in two systems adjacent to Rock Creek that have similar characteristics but do not have aeration. These efforts will be complemented by N2) measurements made at a fixed station in the Patuxent River, a moderately polluted Chesapeake Bay tributary, and during two Patuxent-wide samples cruises. These new data will significantly broaden the understanding of N2) cycling, air-water flux, and distribution within eutrophic estuarine systems.

Olanrewaju Lasisi (Ph.D.), College of William and Mary, Anthropology, “History of Archaeological Research in the Yoruba-Edo region of Nigeria: New Directions for Urban Earthen-works”, Nigeria
The Ijebu kingdom is well-known in the historic Atlantic trade, as a nexus between the coastal and interior of the Yoruba-Edo region of West Africa. Oral traditions, early European travel accounts and remains of monumental architecture still visible in the landscape point to Ijebu and its capital, Ijebu-Ode, as centers of power. Yet, the archaeology of this early African polity remains largely unknown. Archaeological surveys conducted in the 1990s revealed that the core of the kingdom was surrounded by a 180 km enclosure. This project focuses on the capital of Ijebu, a large urban center that stood in the center of the monumental enclosure. Using a landscape perspective, this research project seeks to document the depositional history of Ijebu-Ode, and study long-term changes in the shape and functions of urban and territorial enclosures. Three research questions guide this study: What is the chronological and functional relationship between the urban and the territorial enclosures? How was the urban space defined by the enclosure socially structured? What can the archaeological record tell us about change and continuity in the life and social stratification of the inhabitants of Ijebu-Ode during the second half of the second millennium? This project will the first to examine the chronological data and extent of Ijebu Ode fortifications and will be central to further research in this area.

Vaughn M. Shirey (Ph.D.), Georgetown University, Biology, “The evolution and ecology of high-latitude butterflies with special focus on their biological traits and climate change”, Canada
No habitat on Earth is experiencing more dramatic climatic change than Earth’s arctic; however, much of the endemic insect fauna of the region is severely understudied, leading to significant knowledge gaps with respect to artic ecology. Butterflies represent a well-documented group of insects that will aid in alleviating these knowledge gaps. This project focuses on uncovering the ecological attributes of butterflies in the arctic, specifically still under-documented aspects of their behavior through field work in the Yukon Territory. The data will be examined in tandem with data collected from published field guides and scientific literature to understand the nature of butterfly adaptation to the arctic and how these adaptations may impact these species with respect to of climate change. This project will bridge the gap between data-intensive ecology and field work and elucidate the eco-evolutionary dynamics of a threatened and relatively unexplored ecosystem. A goal of this research is to leverage those data to model how butterfly communities in the arctic have responded and are most likely to respond in the future to changing arctic conditions. Results from the study will become part of an international, global effort to compile ecological, morphological, and evolutionary information on all butterfly species.

2017 ECWG Bombash

2017 ECWG Bombash

You are cordially invited to attend the ECWG Bombash
Held jointly and organized with the Explorers Club Group of Philadelphia
Friday 29 September through Sunday 1 October 2017

Let’s go see where our Constitution was written. Walk in the footsteps of the authors of our country. This will be an extraordinary joint event that combines the efforts of the ECWG and the Philadelphia Chapter for a weekend in Philadelphia, the Birthplace of our Nation and the first World Heritage City in the United States ( We have filled a short weekend with events and places to see. There are many explorers to meet! For those who have never experienced a Bombash, it’s a great way to get to know our colleagues. Our aim is to have a Bombash that is informative, relaxing, and FUN!! Show up to represent ECWG and to soak up history while socializing in the City of Brotherly Love.

You are responsible for your own accommodations and travel to and from Philadelphia, PA.  The hotel at which many of our members will be staying:

Direct link to EC Bombash room booking

The 2017 Bombash events in Philadelphia will be centered around Independence Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Friday, September 29:
6:30-9:00 PM – We will kick off Bombash with an informal dinner at Villa D’Roma located in Philadelphia”s “Little Italy” at 936 S. 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA. Dutch treat.

Saturday, September 30:
9:30-10:45 AM – Independence Visitor Center, 599 Market Street
Constitutional Walking Tour around sites that played a major part in our history. The tour will last about 75 minutes with stops at Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Constitution Center and Carpenters Hall, to name a few. $25.00

11:00 -12:00 noon: – Independence Hall. Our walking tour will be followed by a Ranger-led tour around the first floor of Independence Hall, a World Heritage Site.

12:00-1:30 PM: – Lunch at City Tavern, 138 S. 2nd Street. Dutch treat.
The original City Tavern, destroyed in the late 1800s, was rebuilt in 1976 in time for the bicentennial celebration. City Tavern was a meeting place for our Founding Fathers. The Tavern served as a headquarters for George Washington for 3 days during the Revolutionary War. The first 4th of July was celebrated there.

1:40-3:00 PM: – After lunch we will tour Philadelphia’s newest museum, the Museum of the American Revolution. 101 S. 3rd Street, where we will have a 30-minute presentation on the archaeological excavation for the museum in 2014. Highlights include artifacts dating back to the 1750s. $25.00

6:00-9:00 PM: – Union League of Philadelphia, 140 S. Broad Street
Dinner Lecture. Dr. Robert Peck (FN 83) will present “A Glorious Enterprise: Two Hundred Years of Exploration and Discovery at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia”. Dr. Peck is Senior Fellow and Historian at the Academy. He will discuss America’s oldest natural history institution, enlivening his talk with fascinating photographs from the Academy’s archives and collections. Jacket and tie required. Dinner $55.00

Sunday, October 1:
10:00-Noon: – Optional: Informal tour at Reading Terminal Market, 51 North 12 Street. Meet at the Seating Area. Dutch treat.

Cost for Saturday Events $105 not including lunch at City Tavern. Only Saturday Dinner at Union League: $55.00

PDF Map of Locations

Reservation for Bombash in Philadelphia

Please reserve __________ places for:
Name ________________________
Guest name(s) __________________
Number of vegetarian meals (if any) desired ______________
Organization Affiliation if other than ECWG ______________
The cost is $105 per person for Saturday events (Walking tour, Museum, Dinner at Union League; not including lunch at City Tavern)
Only Saturday Dinner at Union League $55.00
Contact Arnella Trent directly to make individual arrangements if you cannot participate in the whole program.
Enclosed is a check for $__________________

No cancellations will be accepted after the evening of Saturday 12 September 2017.

Send information above and checks made payable to “Explorers Club Washington Group” to:
Arnella Trent
115 Willis Street
Cambridge MD 21613

ECWG Summer Picnic 2017

ECWG Summer Picnic 2017

ECWG members and their guests are cordially invited to the ECWG Summer Picnic 2017 Saturday, July 15, Meet at 10:00

National Arboretum

U.S. National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002-1958
Travel Information

National Bonsai & Penjing Museum

Tour by Michael James, a curator of the Bonsai Collection 10:30-11:30

If you use the R St. entrance, there is parking ahead and to the left when you go through the gate. The Administration Building is a short walk away. You can drive up to the building for passengers to disembark.

Meet inside the Administration Building. At 10:15 we’ll walk together to the Penjing Museum, which is very close. Handicapped accessible throughout.

Following, we will picnic at tables with umbrellas on the terrace. Please bring your own lunch and beverages. Ice cream and cookies will be provided. Looking forward to seeing you there!
Please RSVP to organizer Deborah Bell 202-744-8700

December dinner to feature talk on Life Beyond Earth

December dinner to feature talk on Life Beyond Earth

James Green, the Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters, will speak at the ECWG’s annual black tie dinner on Saturday, Dec.3, on “The Search for Life Beyond Earth in Space and Time.”

The social hour will begin at 6 p.m. followed by the dinner at 7 p.m. and then Dr. Green’s talk.

The cost of the dinner is $65.00 per person.

Make reservations with Arnella Trent at: 115 Willis Street, Cambridge MD 21613


Phone: 301-526-0822

ECWG Members:  ELECTION MEETING.  This is the meeting at which ECWG elects officers.  The annual election will take place during the social hour.  The Board Slate will  be sent to ECWG members.