Spring 2021 eNewsletter

Director’s Corner: A Message from CIGLR’s Director, Dr. Thomas Johengen

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As I was thinking about what message I wanted to share, two specific themes kept resonating in my mind, Transition and Perseverance.

Transition – Like everyone, I wanted to celebrate the beginning of the new year with hope and optimism for a better future. Yet only a few days into the year, we were horrified and heart-broken by the events at our nations’ Capital. It is hard to understand how, in this country, differences in ideologies and politics could result in public insurrection and loss of human life. This coming at a time when our nation has so many other challenges that we need to overcome. Clearly, there cannot be any greater need than for us to come together as a nation and support one another so that we can start this transition of moving forward in a way that benefits all of our citizens. Along with this public discourse, we faced the most deadly month of the pandemic, continued economic hardship, and a vaccination rollout fraught with challenges. Every day, however, we also heard about individual acts of kindness and sacrifice that reminded us that we can all make a difference individually, and that we have to find ways to keep moving forward. So, despite its troubling start, 2021 does mark a new beginning, a chance to rebuild, and an opportunity for our science to make an even greater impact to society. Which leads me to my second theme.

Perseverance – Whether it represents a rover landing on Mars or an individual getting up each morning and figuring out how they are going to balance the demands of work and home life, perseverance has to be one of the most important qualities we all need at this time. I thought those rocket scientists at NASA were pretty darn smart when they picked the name for their Mars Rover to reflect this essential human characteristic, but then I came to learn the name was selected from a contest submission by a 7th grade student – which is even more amazing. And, speaking of young, inspirational minds, I was so moved by message of the optimism and perseverance delivered by our National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, at the Presidential Inauguration. This excerpt from her poem, The Hill We Climb, embodies the spirit that I hope we can all embrace during these challenging times:

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew,
That even as we hurt, we hoped,
That even as we tired, we tried,
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious—

So, let us remain hopeful and continue to find ways to help one another. Let’s be encouraged by a new administration that is committed to leading action to address climate change, advancing racial and environmental justice, letting our public health response to the pandemic be driven by science, and trying to instill a common belief that we must find a way to move forward together in order to persevere.

Thomas Johengen



Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research &
Michigan Sea Grant