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QUBS celebrating 75th anniversary

June 23, 2020

Queen’s University Biological Station launches video highlighting its role in fostering leading-edge research, experiential learning, science outreach, and biodiversity conservation.

It has been 75 years since the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) was established on Queen’s Point on Lake Opinicon. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the QUBS community of researchers and staff at the field station are set to celebrate.

Each year the anniversary is celebrated with an in-person Open House, originally scheduled for Sunday, June 28, where professors and students interact with hundreds of visitors who can also tour the Lake Opinicon campus located just a 50-minute drive north of the university.

The 75th anniversary celebration will unfold virtually this year and kicks off this week with the release of a special five-minute promotional video highlighting the important role QUBS has served over the years in fostering leading-edge research, experiential learning, science outreach, and biodiversity conservation.

Five additional short films focused on researchers who use the unique resources offered by QUBS will be released throughout the summer and autumn. 

“Over the past 75 years QUBS has provided incredible opportunities for students to obtain hands-on experiences, including summer internships, undergraduate field courses, and graduate field research,” says Stephen Lougheed, Professor in the Department of Biology and the School of Environmental Studies and the Director at QUBS. “Developing strong field and science communication skills and a deep understanding of the ecology and evolution of the biodiversity of the Frontenac Arch are a few of the positive experiences that thousands of students have gained at the station.”

The QUBS team has been busy marking the milestone with a social media campaign using FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. The QUBS team of undergraduate summer interns and full-time staff is also facilitating many initiatives, including a remote virtual camp for youth in place of what would have been the 10th annual in-person summer day camp at Elbow Lake. Seminars from diverse speakers and community outreach talks are available online throughout the summer on the Official QUBS YouTube Channel

“The greatest issues facing humanity today center on the environment, including pollution, invasive species, emerging diseases, loss of habitat, global declines of biodiversity, and climate change. Exacerbating these are pronounced social, racial, and gender inequities, lack of diversity in many professions including the sciences, and lagging progress in reconciliation with Indigenous people,” says Dr. Lougheed, also the Baillie Family Chair in Conservation Biology. “In the next few decades, I would like to see QUBS at the forefront of all of these challenges, working to attract top-flight researchers from diverse backgrounds to Queen’s to offer tangible solutions.”

75 years in the making

From its founding in 1945, QUBS has had a dual mandate of teaching and research in biology and related sciences, while also engaging in active stewardship to conserve local terrestrial and aquatic environments, and biodiversity.

Today QUBS’ lands comprise more than 3,400 hectares, including nine small lakes plus extensive shoreline on Lake Opinicon and Hart Lake, and habitats ranging from abandoned pastures to mature second-growth forest.

The main facility at Lake Opinicon has 32 buildings, including the Raleigh J. Robertson Biodiversity Centre, a library and natural history collections, conference rooms, 12 laboratories for research, a workshop, and a variety of accommodations, ranging from one-person sleeping cabins to large cottages and dormitory space. The Biodiversity Centre includes a conference space/classroom, kitchen and dining room, administrative offices, a computer/GIS facility, and an interpretive area. Plans are being finalized for a two-story research and teaching building that will provide new lab spaces for aquatic research, teaching spaces, and offices.

The Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre campus has 14 core buildings including a large central pavilion and 10 hexagonal, two-bedroom cabins. Together, these buildings can accommodate groups of 30-40 people comfortably for meetings, small conferences and public outreach events. Elbow Lake is the outreach arm of QUBS, offering programs in environmental and conservation science and natural history to school groups and the public.

The QUBS staff hope that you will celebrate with them – virtually – through the new promotional video and its growing array of online resources.

Note: This article originally appeared in the Queen’s Gazette.