Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center is located near Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, on land donated by Robert Forest in 1965. Initially a field station, the center focused on environmental research, including the work of the Radiation Biology Laboratory. Today, the Center studies links between coastal zone land and water ecosystems.

Aerial View of Chesapeake Bay Center for Environmental Studies (CBCES), by Unknown, c. 1970s, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, 2003-19524. Aerial View of Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, c. 1970s
Aerial view of the Rhode River and the site of the Chesapeake Bay Center for Environmental Studies (CBCES), now known as the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), in Edgewater, Maryland.
Laboratory of Division of Radiation and Organisms, SIB, by Unknown, c. 1930 ?, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, 37414-B or MAH-37414B. Division of Radiation and Organisms Laboratory in Castle Basement, c. 1930
Located in the basement of the Smithsonian Institution Building is the Division of Radiation and Organisms, a division of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory dedicated to studying the effects of sunlight on plants. Shown here is a corner of the laboratory where histological studies of plant tissues are made. An unidentified man is looking into a microscope.
Storrs Olson, by Unknown, 1969, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, SIA2011-1096 and 94-2478. Storrs Olson at Chesapeake Bay Center for Field Studies, 1969
Storrs Olson, ornithologist and resident manager of the Chesapeake Bay Center for Environmental Studies, now the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, studies a bird skull in the headquarters' building. The Center is an ecological research center established on the Chesapeake Bay July 1, 1965.
Francis S.L. Williamson, by Unknown, c. 1969, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, 94-2477. Tree Research at Chesapeake Bay Center for Environmental Studies, c. 1969
Dr. Francis S. L. Williamson, Director of the Chesapeake Bay Center for Environmental Studies, 1968-1975. Williamson is kneeling next to a fallen tree in the woods.
SERC Parklawn Laboratory, by Unknown, 1977, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, 77-3239-3. Radiation Biology Laboratory, Parklawn Building, 1977
Radiation Biology Laboratory lab in the Parklawn Building, in Rockville, Maryland. John Azzard, left, is preparing to cut sporangiophores, while Walter Shropshire, right, looks on.
Measuring Marsh Grass Productivity, by Unknown, 1979, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, SIA2011-1159. Measuring Marsh Productivity, 1979
Measuring marsh grass productivity in this Plexiglas box. The production of energy in a salt marsh was investigated through a cooperative effort of two Smithsonian bureaus, with the Radiation Biology Laboratory's physiological ecologist Bert Drake and a team of his co-workers conducting research at the Chesapeake Bay Center of Environmental Studies located along the Rhode River estuary of the bay.
Dr. Elisabeth Gantt, by Hofmeister, Richard K, 1979, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, SIA2011-1158 and 79-14206-12A. Gantt Studies Algae at Parklawn Building, 1979
Dr. Elisabeth Gantt, a biologist at the Smithsonian's Radiation Biology Laboratory in Rockville, MD, studies algae in solution. Dr. Gantt studied the photosynthetic apparatus of plants, in particular, plants in the algae family. The conversion of solar into chemical energy via the pigment chlorophyll--the process known as photosynthesis--takes place in plants with relatively high efficiency.
Dr. Anson Hines, by Ploskonka, Jeffrey, 1986, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, SIA2011-1165 and 85-16140-9A. Dr. Anson Hines
Dr. Anson Hines of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) uses a directional hydrophone to track an ultrasonically telemetered blue crab on the Rhode River. This investigation used ultrasonic telemetry to record the patterns of movement and habitat of the Atlantic blue crab, a commercially and biologically important denizen of the Chesapeake Bay. The research was carried out by Hines in collaboration with Dr. Thomas Wolcott, a professor in the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences of North Carolina Sate University, Raleigh.
James Lynch Conducts Research at SERC, by Hofmeister, Richard K, 1986, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, 86-5064-11. James F. Lynch Studying Trees, 1986
James F. Lynch, Biological Ecologist, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, conducts research in the woods around the Center located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed in Edgewater, Maryland.
Jim Schafer Helping Children at SERC, by Hofmeister, Richard K, 1986, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, 86-4241-36. Educational Activities at Environmental Research Center, 1986
Public education specialist Jim Schaefer assists children, participating in the Canoe Activity offered for no charge at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland, to get out of a canoe.
Groundbreaking for the Mathias Lab, by Hofmeister, Richard K, 1987, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, 87-15933-15A. Mathias Lab Groundbreaking, 1987
Groundbreaking ceremony for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center's new laboratory, named in honor of Senator Charles McC. Mathias, Jr. who championed legislation to protect the Chesapeake Bay from over development and pollution during his more than 20 years in Congress. The photo shows (from l.) David Challinor, Assistant Secretary for Research, Dean Anderson, Undersecretary, Senator Charles McC. Mathias, Jr. (with a shovel of dirt), and David Correll, director of SERC.
Darius Nassiry, by Long, Eric, 1987, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, SIA2011-1167 and 87-8953/34. Marsh Plant Study of Greenhouse Effect, 1987
Darius Nassiry, one assistant of Dr. Bert Drake a plant physiologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), examines a marsh plant in a steel pressure cylinder at SERC near the Chesapeake Bay in Edgewater, MD. This was an innovative Smithsonian experiment to explore future greenhouse effect.
SERC Scientist Tuck Hines and Senator Mathias, by Strauss, Richard, June 1, 1989, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, SIA2011-1027 and 89-10018-29. New Mathias Lab, 1989
On a tour of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center's (SERC) new Charles McC. Mathias Laboratory, SERC scientist Tuck Hines shows Senator Mathias a tank for Chesapeake blue crabs. The opening of the new laboratory at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, MD, was celebrated on June 1, 1989, and the laboratory was named for Sen. Mathias, former U.S. Senator from Maryland (1968-1986), who championed legislation to protect the Chesapeake Bay from over-development and pollution.
SERC Volunteers, by Strauss, Richard, 1990, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, 90-10237-6 or 90-10237.06. Center Volunteers on Robert Lee Forest, 1990
Volunteers Brenda Chapin, left, Ed Grimes and Gretchen Seilstad pose aboard the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center's (SERC) research vessel, the Robert Lee Forrest. Assisting in the study of physical, chemical and biological interactions in estuarine and water-shed systems, SERC volunteers can find projects at dockside, on the water or in the woods surrounding the center. Chapin and Seilstad have worked on many forest projects such as a forest-mapping project. Grimes captains the SERC's research vessel "Robert Lee Forrest", helps with dock activities, and guides groups on woodland walks.
SERC Staffers at Amphitheater over Fox Creek Marsh, by Strauss, Richard, 1992, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, 92-6511-29. Amphitheater Over Fox Creek, 1992
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center staffers, from left, Jon Hall, Catie Drew, Carol Towle, and Mark Haddon stand at the boardwalk's amphitheater over Fox Creek Marsh, part of SERC's Java History Trail.
Teachers at SERC Workshop, by Strauss, Richard, 1993, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, 93-4934-15. Workshop for Teachers, 1993
During a one-day workshop for teachers, the Smithsonian Environment Research Center's (SERC) Mark Haddon, left, gave teachers a lesson on the bottom-dwelling animals of the Rhode River. Lynne Cherry, SERC artist-in-residence who helped host the workshop, is at center in hat and sunglasses.
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Canopy Research, by Tinsley, Jeff, 1994, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, 2003-19496. Researchers in Canopy Crane to Study Forest, 1994
Geoffrey Parker, left, a forest ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Edgewater, MD. and Project Facilitator Sarita Cargas perform leaf experiments high up in the forest canopy with the help of a crane they rented for a week. The canopy, where the atmosphere interacts with the biosphere, has rarely been studied in a temperate forest.
Sampling Ballast Water in Baltimore Harbor, by Reid, Don, 1994, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, SIA2011-1200. Sampling Ballast Water in Baltimore Harbor, 1994
Linda McCann (left) of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), David Smith and Marjorie Wonham of Williams College in Massachusetts sample ballast water in Baltimore Harbor. Foreign and domestic cargo ships jettison millions of gallons of ballast water into North American ports and waterways. Drawn aboard in foreign countries to stabilize large ships during ocean crossings, this water can contain hundreds of species of marine or freshwater organisms. Biologists are calling the discharge of these organisms "ecological roulette" on a global scale, and the result may be irreversible changes in our marine estuaries and freshwater ecosystems. This discharge of ballast water from foreign ports makes the bay a hotspot for the release of alien species and their potential invasion.
Dennis Whigham, by Strauss, Richard, 1996, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, SIA2011-1201 and 96-984-6. Whigham Measures Orchid Root, 1996
Dennis Whigham, a plant ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, measures an orchid's roots. He is studying cranefly, coral-root and showy orchids--three terrestrial species that grow wild in mature forests in Eastern North America.
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, by Barnes, Michael, May 13, 2000, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, 2000-4320. Center Open House, 2000
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center building during open house.