January 27, 2020
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MDI Biological Laboratory appoints Janis L. Coates, Ph.D., to board

Community Author: Stefanie Matteson
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MDI Biological Laboratory | Contributed
MDI Biological Laboratory | Contributed
Janis L. Coates, Ph.D.

BAR HARBOR — The MDI Biological Laboratory has announced that Janis L. Coates, Ph.D., executive director of Southwest Harbor-based Island Readers & Writers has joined its board of trustees.

Coates will bring her local connections, her experience in running a nonprofit, her business experience and her background as a college administrator to her new position.

A native of Northeast Harbor, Coates is the founder of Island Readers & Writers, a local non-profit devoted to the role of reading in fostering the healthy development of children. Each year, the organization brings book-based educational programs to over 2,800 children living on Maine’s coastal islands and in rural communities in Washington County.

Coates is familiar with the MDI Biological Laboratory through former visiting scientists and Island Readers & Writers collaborations aimed at introducing schoolchildren in these communities to scientists and to science.

“Through these connections and my acquaintance with members of the board I have had a chance to learn more about the lab and to meet the people who are passionate about the work in education and science that is going on there,” she said. “As someone with an interest in genetics who majored in science education as an undergraduate, I was also intrigued by the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the research on regeneration and aging.”

“Jan Coates brings an enormous amount of experience to the board,” said Edward J. Benz Jr., M.D., the acting chairman. “As a result of her background in non-profit administration and her experience in higher education, she has a sense of organizational design, governance and strategic thinking that will be enormously valuable to us as the institution continues to grow.”

Prior to founding Island Readers & Writers in 2006, Coates was the owner and manager of Port In A Storm Bookstore in Somesville. Island Readers & Writers grew out of her vision to venture beyond the walls of the bookstore to bring books and their authors and illustrators together with children in the places where they live.

Coates’ background includes 22 years of experience in higher education administration, including in roles as dean of students at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York and Albion College in Albion, Michigan. and associate dean for campus programs and organizations at Albion College. She has also served as a consultant to various colleges, universities and non-profit organizations.

Currently, Coates serves on the board of directors of the Mount Desert Land & Garden Preserve, whose mission is to share the beauty of historic lands and gardens on Mount Desert Island, and is an emeritus trustee of the Aloha Foundation, a Vermont-based nonprofit that supports summer camps, family camps and education programs.

She holds a doctorate in college and university administration from Michigan State University in East Lansing; a master’s degree in college personnel administration from Indiana University in Bloomington; and a bachelor’s degree from University of Maine at Orono.

She grew up in Northeast Harbor and Orono, both in Maine, and resides in Hall Quarry in the Town of Mount Desert.