Agency history, 1983-

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  • Abbot, C. G (Charles Greeley) 1872-1973
  • Correll, David L
  • Klein, William H (William Harvey)
  • Sullivan, J. Kevin
  • Barbehenn, Kyle R
  • Johnston, Earl S (Earl Steinford) 1889-1947
  • Simons, Ross B
  • Williamson, Francis S. L
  • Withrow, Robert B (Robert Bruce) 1904-1958
  • Hines, Anson Hemingway
  • Brackett, Frederick S
  • Chesapeake Bay Center for Environmental Studies
  • Smithsonian Radiation Biology Laboratory
  • Chesapeake Research Consortium
  • Smithsonian Institution Division of Radiation and Organisms
  • Smithsonian Institution Office of Ecology
  • Smithsonian Institution Office of Environmental Sciences
  • Chesapeake Bay Center for Field Biology


Agency History


  • This is an agency history. It does not describe actual records. The Smithsonian Institution Archives uses these histories as brief accounts of the origin, development, and functions of an office or administrative unit to set that unit in its historical context. To find information on record holdings, please double-click the highlighted field "Creator/Author", which will open on a brief view of relevant records.
  • Guide to the Smithsonian Archives, 1996
  • Smithsonian Year
  • Smithsonian Appoints New Director for SERC press release, accessed June 6, 2012
  • The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) was established on July 1, 1983, when the Radiation Biology Laboratory was merged with the Chesapeake Bay Center for Environmental Studies.
  • The history of the Radiation Biology Laboratory (RBL) can be traced to May 1, 1929, when the Division of Radiation and Organisms was established by Secretary Charles G. Abbot. Initially funded mostly by the Research Corporation, the Division's purpose was to undertake investigations of the effect of radiation on living organisms. In 1941, the Division was administratively placed under the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Staff in charge of the Division included Frederick S. Brackett, Research Associate in Charge, 1929-1930, and Chief, 1931-1932; Charles G. Abbot, Director, 1933-1941; Earl S. Johnston, Assistant Director in Charge, 1941-1948; Robert B. Withrow, Chief, 1948-1958; and William H. Klein, Acting Chief, 1958-1959, and Chief, 1959-1965.
  • On February 16, 1965, the Division of Radiation and Organisms was abolished. Its work was continued by the newly established Radiation Biology Laboratory (RBL), an independent Smithsonian bureau reporting to the Assistant Secretary for Science. The research program at RBL was three-pronged regulatory biology, or how sunlight regulates growth and development of biological organisms; solar radiation measurements; and carbon dating of samples submitted by Smithsonian and outside scientists. In 1970, RBL relocated from the old Astrophysical Observatory buildings in the south yard of the Smithsonian Institution Building to facilities in Rockville, Maryland. William H. Klein served as Director of RBL during its eighteen-year history.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Center for Field Biology (CBCFB) was created on July 1, 1965, to conduct research and promote education in ecosystem biology. CBCFB was established at Java Farm, a 368-acre tract of land located seven miles south of Annapolis, Maryland, on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Java Farm was bequeathed to the Smithsonian Institution by Robert Lee Forest in 1962. Adjoining property was purchased with funds contributed by private foundations, and the Center's site eventually grew to 2,400 acres including 14 miles of shoreline on the Rhode River.
  • From 1965 to 1969, CBCFB was an administrative unit of the Smithsonian Office of Ecology. In 1969, its name was changed to the Chesapeake Bay Center for Environmental Studies (CBCES), and it was placed under the administration of the newly created Office of Environmental Sciences. CBCES became an independent Smithsonian bureau in 1973, reporting to the Assistant Secretary for Science. Directors of the CBCES (before 1969, CBCFB) included Kyle R. Barbehenn, 1965-1968; Francis S. L. Williamson, 1968-1975; and J. Kevin Sullivan, Acting Director, 1975-1976, and Director, 1976-1983.
  • In February 1966, the Smithsonian joined in an agreement with the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland to collaborate in biological research and education at CBCFB. In 1971, the three institutions joined with the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences to form the Chesapeake Research Consortium (CRC) to "foster and facilitate research germane to the region of the Chesapeake Bay." CBCES became a major component of the CRC research program.
  • William H. Klein was appointed Director of the newly created SERC in 1983. The mission of SERC is to continue basic research with the goals of measuring physical, chemical, and biological interactions in environmental settings. Operations of SERC were conducted at two sites - the old RBL laboratory at Rockville, Maryland, and the former CBCES facilities at Edgewater, Maryland. The Rockville laboratory was closed on November 22, 1986, and all SERC activities were relocated to Edgewater. Klein retired in 1987 and was replaced by David L. Correll as Acting Director. Correll was appointed Director in 1989 and served until 1997. He was replaced by Ross B. Simons, Acting Director, 1997-1998, and Director, 1998-2005. Anson "Tuck" Hines became the next Director, 2005- .
  • For a history of the larger creating unit, refer to "Forms part of " above.

Repository Loc.

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520


  • 1983
  • 1983-


Environmental sciences


  • Rhode River (Md.)
  • Chesapeake Bay (Md. and Va.)


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00012

Full Record

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