May 27, 2019
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Mission of Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park to be topic of MDI Science Cafe

Community Author: Stefanie Matteson
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Schoodic Institute | Contributed
Schoodic Institute | Contributed

President and CEO will talk about solutions to environmental challenges

BAR HARBOR — The mission of Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park — to pursue collaborative solutions to critical environmental challenges through discovery and learning — will be the subject of an upcoming MDI Science Cafe at the MDI Biological Laboratory.

The presentation, titled “Discovery and Boundaries: Next-Generation Conservation in Parks and Communities,” will be delivered by Don Kent, Ph.D., the institute’s president and CEO. The cafée will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, May 13, at the Maine Center for Biomedical Innovation on the campus of the MDI Biological Laboratory, 159 Old Bar Harbor Road, Salisbury Cove.

Kent will address Schoodic Institute’s vision, mission and strategies. Following his presentation, he will engage the audience in a wide-ranging discussion about sustaining healthy landscapes. Topics will include “discovery, boundaries, burden of knowledge, collective intelligence, environmental change and human response, models and hosting and leadership,” he said.

Though many environmental stressors are connected to climate change, the popularity of Acadia National Park can also be considered an environmental stressor, Kent noted. In 2018, the park had a record-breaking 3.54 million visitors. The growing number of visitors requires increased maintenance and management in order to preserve the habitat and the visitor experience.

“Our goal is to understand these problems,” said Kent, whose career has been defined by efforts to promote healthy and resilient landscapes. “We are not interested in abstracts. We are interested in identifying solutions that are relevant and meaningful to people’s lives, with the ultimate goal of creating healthy and prosperous parks, communities and societies.”

Schoodic Institute’s public-private partnership with Acadia National Park provides a laboratory for research to study these problems (“because national parks are large and protected, they are uniquely valuable experimental sites,” Kent said) and an opportunity to enhance science literacy and environmental stewardship among the millions who visit the park each year.

The institute, located on the Schoodic Peninsula in Winter Harbor, offers classrooms, laboratories, housing and meals for individual researchers, groups and conferences and a 124-seat auditorium on a 100-acre campus in a spectacular oceanfront setting.

Founded in 2004 as Acadia Partners for Science and Learning, the institute was later known as the SERC Institute before it became the Schoodic Institute in 2013. Today, it houses and manages the Schoodic Education and Research Center, one of 18 U.S. National Park Service Research Learning Centers. The institute and park are national leaders in developing new techniques to involve the public in science and conservation.

Kent has held his position at Schoodic Institute since January 2018. Prior to that, he worked in executive positions at a number of conservation organizations, including NatureServe in Arlington, Va.; the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau in Concord;  and the Community Watershed Fund in Florida. In addition, he conducted environmental research with Walt Disney Imagineering, the research and development arm of The Walt Disney Co., and served as an independent consultant to environmental agencies and the agricultural sector in support of Everglades restoration.

MDI Science Cafés are offered in fulfillment of the institution’s mission to promote scientific literacy and increase public engagement with science. The popular events offer a chance to hear directly from speakers about trends in science. Short presentations delivered in everyday language are followed by lively, informal discussion.

For  information, please visit mdibl.org/events/ or call 207-288-3147.

About the MDI Biological Laboratory 

We are pioneering new approaches to regenerative medicine focused on developing drugs that slow age-related degenerative diseases and activate our natural ability to heal. Our unique approach has identified potential therapies that could revolutionize the treatment of heart disease, muscular dystrophy and more. Through the Maine Center for Biomedical Innovation, we are preparing students for 21st century careers and equipping entrepreneurs with the knowledge, skills and resources needed to turn discoveries into applications that improve human health and well-being. For more information, please visit mdibl.org.