Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Secretary of Education Anne Holton, William & Mary President Taylor Reveley, and other dignitaries came together at the NewMarket Corporate Pavilion in Richmond in late January to celebrate the start of a milestone year for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
Founded in 1940 as the Virginia Fisheries Laboratory, VIMS is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015 with a yearlong series of public lectures and other special events.
Hosted by Teddy Gottwald, CEO of the Richmond-based NewMarket Corporation and longtime friend of VIMS, the Richmond event brought together state officials, business leaders, scientists, graduate students, several members of the Gottwald family, and members of the VIMS Council and Foundation to showcase the accomplishments of the students and faculty currently conducting research in Chesapeake Bay and around the world.
“It’s a pleasure and an honor to help VIMS celebrate its 75th anniversary,” said Gottwald. “We strongly believe they share our goals of supporting the communities around us and of promoting environmental sustainability.”
Jim Rogers, of the VIMS Foundation Board of Directors, welcomed guests to the pavilion overlooking the James River in downtown Richmond before introducing President Reveley, who gave a brief synopsis of VIMS’ accomplishments during the past 75 years and discussed some new goals moving into the future.
Said Reveley, “VIMS is a treasure for the Commonwealth and the best hope that Virginia has for a healthy and productive Bay.”
Governor McAuliffe was also on-hand to discuss VIMS’ dedication to providing sound science for the citizens of the Commonwealth, with special mention of the Institute’s key role in jumpstarting the oyster aquaculture industry that is now strengthening Virginia’s economy.
Following McAullife’s remarks, VIMS Dean and Director John Wells addressed the audience saying, “During our 75 years, VIMS has consistently told the story of Chesapeake Bay based on sound data and good science. Our mission to advise the Commonwealth will always be a priority, and is guided not just by the work we do around the Bay, but around the world.”
Wells then introduced the three student winners of VIMS’ inaugural Three Minute Thesis® competition, who each gave their presentation to a rapt audience.
VIMS graduate student Lydia Bienlien, winner of the 3MT® competition, explained in 2 minutes and 56 seconds how her research aims to unveil whether the Eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica, the oyster parasite Perkinsus marinus, and two oyster-infecting bacteria within the genus Vibrio interact and how they might affect one another in “The Secret Triad.”
Second place winners Tin Chi Solomon Chak (The Evolution of Eusociality in Snapping Shrimps) and Carissa Gervasi (Battling a Deadly Disease: What Will Happen to the Striped Bass?) also presented carefully crafted synopses of their research for the audience.
“Our students and faculty are innovators who will discover new solutions to lead the Commonwealth forward, freely sharing the highest quality marine research and providing practical solutions,” said Wells. “VIMS must lead Virginia in safeguarding its coastal way of life and our marine economies and resources.”
VIMS Associate Director of Development Jennifer Dillon says the event helped reach a group of people that know about VIMS, but may not have had a chance to interact or engage with its researchers or students. “We are very pleased with the overall outcome,” says Dillon. “It gave us the opportunity to say a big ‘thank you’ to our supporters.”