College of Science & Engineering Alumni Newsletter

Spring 1997

The Romberg Tiburon Centers for Environmental Studies

"Science is a group quest, bringing a variety of people together working toward a common goal. Just like a crew can become a tight-knit community on a confined sea voyage or at a field station like RTC, research makes scientists feel part of a family." –Alissa Arp, Director, RTC

Science on the Dock of the Bay

Located on the remote south end of the Tiburon coastline fifteen minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco State University faculty and staff conduct marine research at the Romberg Tiburon Centers for Environmental Studies (RTC). Located on San Francisco Bay, the property is the perfect location for a field station and estuarine and marine laboratory, and is the only academic facility in the area devoted to studying the San Francisco Bay. As an ecosystem that has suffered extensively as a result of human development, the Bay offers researchers opportunities to conduct studies that have global application. Current projects of the faculty and students include a long-term monitoring study of a reconstructed salt marsh in the Bolinas Lagoon, the effects of agricultural water diversion on the Bay’s ecosystem, and the effect of the introduction of non-native species on endemic species.

RTC Awarded $2.2 Million

In August 1995, Dr. Alissa Arp became the new director of RTC. Arp recently garnered a $1.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to update the center’s research labs and attract more researchers. The University has added $0.8 million match to the award. These combined funds will result in the upgrading and modernization of the infrastructure of the main facility and many of the existing laboratories.

"Before SFSU founded the Center in 1977, there had been no concentrated academic effort to understand the Bay and its importance to us, " says the university’s Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, James Kelley. "We can now begin to increase the pace of our research efforts thanks to the new facilities the grant will provide."

Expanding the Scope

Dr. Arp—one of only a handful of women in the country leading a major scientific research institution—is an expert on adaptations that enable organisms to live in stressful environments, ranging from marine mudflats to deep sea hydrothermal vents. One of her first goals was to make RTC more accessible to faculty, researchers, and students. This fall, new faculty members, researchers, a visiting scientist, and two postdocs joined the existing staff. The new staff members bring to RTC expertise in biological oceanography, food web ecology, plant ecology and environmental physiology. This year's addition of new staff is just the beginning—the goal is to have five tenured professors as part of the permanent RTC staff. New courses and seminars will be added to RTC's current curricula as new areas of scientific expertise are brought to RTC as the staff expands. There is also a plan to develop an environmental science major at the Center.

This spring, RTC is offering courses on foodweb controversies, ecological methods, and oceanography. For more information about RTC’s spring or summer courses, contact the Center at 415 435.7100.

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Updated by Lannie Nguyen-Tang on August 3rd, 2000