KBS Honors Former Director

Event marks 50 years of aquatic ecology research at internationally recognized center.

Published on: Oct 29, 2013

Former W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) director George Lauff was a special honoree during a celebration held Oct. 18-20 to mark 50 years of aquatic ecology research at the biological station, Michigan State University’s largest off-campus complex.

More than 100 current and former faculty members, students and staff members traveled to KBS from across the country for the event, at which Lauff, of Dearborn, was recognized for leading the growth of KBS into an internationally recognized center for ecological research.

Lauff was KBS director from 1964 until his retirement in 1989. He was the station’s first year-round, resident director under the newly created (in 1962) MSU College of Natural Science. In 2004, Lauff donated his home to MSU to fund KBS student scholarships.

Former W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) director George Lauff was a special honoree during a celebration. Pictured left to right are: Lauff,  Kay Gross, current KBS director, Gary Mittelbach, faculty member, KBS/MSU, Alan Tessier, program director, National Science Foundation, Craig Osenberg, faculty member, University of Florida, and Mark McPeek, faculty member, Dartmouth College. Photo credit: Liz VandenHeede
Former W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) director George Lauff was a special honoree during a celebration. Pictured left to right are: Lauff, Kay Gross, current KBS director, Gary Mittelbach, faculty member, KBS/MSU, Alan Tessier, program director, National Science Foundation, Craig Osenberg, faculty member, University of Florida, and Mark McPeek, faculty member, Dartmouth College. Photo credit: Liz VandenHeede

After a Friday evening reception kicked off the three-day event, a Saturday symposium featured 11 presentations by former KBS’ers, most of whom are now faculty members at universities around the country. Each presenter reflected on aquatic research at KBS, a 3200-acre facility near Gull Lake.

Presenter Don Hall, a retired professor of zoology at MSU and KBS, recalled how Lauff helped secure original funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) by overcoming the agency’s reluctance to support “bricks-and-mortar projects.” Lauff put a unique spin on what would eventually become the KBS Experimental Pond Laboratory, Hall says.

“We asked for a set of giant, dirty test tubes. That's what convinced NSF to fund us," Hall says. 

KBS supports multidisciplinary research and education in ecology, agriculture, natural resources and the environment.

A research paper authored by current KBS director Kay Gross was recently recognized by the British Ecological Society as one of 100 influential papers in the field of ecological science.