Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact

Parent Organization

Smithsonian Institution


SERC originated in 1965 as the Chesapeake Bay Center for Field Biology at a site that had been bequeathed earlier to the Smithsonian Institution. Departing Secretary Leonard Carmichael had considered selling the property in 1964, but incoming Secretary S. Dillon Ripley urged formation of a committee to evaluate potential uses by the Smithsonian. Various suggestions were offered, but a decision was made to keep the area, which had a wide variety of habitats suitable for terrestrial, wetland and estuarine field biology, as a site for field collecting trips by scientists from universities and government agencies, as well as the Smithsonian. Dr. Francis Williamson was SERC's director from 1968 until 1976 and led initiatives in three areas: facilities development and land acquisition/protection, research program and staff development, and educational programs, including a very successful Work/Learn internship program. Growth in the Center's research program and its staff dominated the latter part of the 1970's; following some organizational turmoil in the early 1980's, SERC shifted its focus to public education programs while still conducting unique research on how humans affect coastal ecosystems.


Smithsonian Institution Archives, History Division. "History of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)." Retrieved August 22, 2016 from!sichronology&uri=full=3100001~!3777~!0#focus





Organization name