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MLRC Partner Highlight: behavioral ecologist and watershed researcher, Cathy Bevier

Dr. Cathy Bevier’s interest in biology began early in life, in the 4th grade, and she’s done all she can to learn about the natural world. Cathy graduated from Indiana University and then earned her Ph.D. in ecology at the University of Connecticut. In 1999, she joined the faculty in the Biology Department at Colby College. Working at Colby requires a balance of research and teaching, and she especially enjoys working with curious and talented students. Cathy teaches courses that include Biodiversity, Animal Behavior, Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, Behavioral and Physiological Ecology, and Exercise Physiology. Her service to the college includes chairing the biology department (2011-2014), serving on numerous college-wide committees, and advising students and student groups. She also works with the Colby Environmental Studies program.

Students in Bevier’s amphibian research laboratory at Colby College.

Professor Bevier is trained as a behavioral ecologist, and focuses on reproductive behavior in frogs. Most recently, however, she has targeted her research toward amphibian conservation. In particular, she and her research students are investigating the antimicrobial compounds produced in frog skin secretions and by beneficial symbiotic bacteria that live on frog skin. For some frogs, these may provide protection from the effects of infection by the pathogenic chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which is one source of global declines and extinctions of amphibian population.

Professor Bevier’s work with the MLRC began when she was a co-principal investigator with a research group funded for five years by the National Science Foundation to investigate the effects of human development in the Belgrade Watershed. She and Professor Russ Cole have led teams of student research assistants during the last several summers to do field work to evaluate the riparian and littoral habitats of shoreline properties along three of the Belgrade Lakes (Great Pond, East Pond, North Pond). This data provides insight into the effectiveness of best management practices associated with the LakeSmart initiatives. Professors Bevier and Cole and their students continue to work with Maggie Shannon and other leaders within the Belgrade Lakes community to provide evidence for lakeside residents that encourage maintaining properties in ways that protect lake water quality and property values.

Professor Bevier enjoys exploring the Maine outdoors through every season, and especially enjoys summer swimming and kayaking on Messalonskee Lake. Her husband, Louis, is an avid birder and editor, and their son Alex, a junior at Lawrence High School, is a competitive swimmer and aspires to study biochemistry.

First Water Quality Community Meeting, March 4th

Please join us on Wednesday, March 4th at 6 o’clock at the Maine Lakes Resource Center for an important community meeting to discuss our Water Quality InitiativeColby Chemistry Professor, Whitney King and MLRC Acting Director, Lisa Hallee will share our plans to move this vital effort forward over this summer and fall. All are welcome!

Meet Lisa Hallee, Acting Executive Director of the Maine Lakes Resource Center

The Maine Lakes Resource Center Board recently appointed Lisa Hallee as Acting Executive Director of the MLRC. “I have spent much of my life living on or near the Belgrade Lakes so it feels exactly right that I should now devote my career to protecting and preserving what I hold so dear,” said Hallee. “For me, Snow Pond (aka Messalonskee Lake) is home. I have watched sunsets on this lake for 15 years from my own home and for many more before that from my parents’ camp. I have had precious opportunities in my career to help causes I believe in – my alma mater, Colby College, the Waterville Opera House, MaineGeneral and the Alfond Center for Health, among others. Now I have come full circle as I work to preserve and protect the Belgrade lakes I have loved for most of my life.”

Sunset over the southern end of Messalonskee Lake.

Sunset over the southern end of Messalonskee Lake.

Hallee was born and raised in Waterville and graduated from Colby College in 1981 and from Cornell Law School. She began her legal practice in a Washington, D.C. firm specializing in anti-trust and trade regulation then moved to Boston and became in-house counsel to the Gillette Company before shifting her career from law to philanthropy in 1994. In Boston, Hallee worked for City Year, an organization dedicated to bringing together young people from diverse backgrounds for a year of community service in the inner city, the Center for Women and Enterprise, a nonprofit organization devoted to teaching women how to start and grow their own businesses as a way out of poverty, and finally for the BankBoston Foundation making grants to youth and education programs throughout New England.

“In 2000, I came home to Maine and to Colby,” said Hallee “The region I was so eager to leave at 22 now looked like heaven on earth at 40, especially once I bought my house on Snow Pond.” Hallee served as a Senior Major Gift Officer for Colby for nine years traveling around the U.S. and the world to raise funds for Colby’s Reaching the World campaign.

While at Colby, Hallee became Chair of the Waterville Opera House Board and led the planning and initial fundraising for a $4.5 million renovation that was completed in 2012. “Saving the Opera House was especially important to me. Not only had I worked on many Opera House productions when I was in high school, but my mother had also sung on that venerable stage when she was young. As a third generation Waterville resident, I felt a responsibility to preserve this treasure for future generations,” said Hallee.

In 2009, Hallee became Vice President for Philanthropy for MaineGeneral where she led the capital campaign that raised $51 million for the new Alfond Center for Health. Hallee also led the “patient experience team,” which worked closely with the design team on interior design, signage, landscaping, art and donor recognition.   “It is impossible to describe the enormous effort building this hospital required of all of us who shared in the work.  To this day, I feel an almost overwhelming sense of pride whenever I walk into the hospital’s grand lobby. The people who live here, the people I grew up with, my family and friends, deserve a beautiful hospital and now they have it.”

Lisa and her father at the opening of the Alfond Center for Health.

Lisa and her father at the opening of the Alfond Center for Health.

Hallee takes the reins of the Maine Lakes Resource Center as the organization is shaping a regional effort to improve water quality in the Belgrade Lakes. Scientists who have studied data gathered in the Belgrade Lakes over the past forty years have concluded that phosphorus levels are unhealthy and that algae blooms are likely if nothing is done to reverse this trend. The water quality initiative will also address variable leaf milfoil infestations, which continue to be a problem in some of the lakes.

“Preserving our lakes is vitally important to all of us who call this part of Maine home. In fact our future depends on it,” according to Hallee. “Not only are our lakes a source of beauty and inspiration, they play a huge role in our economy. Each year thousands of tourists flock to our lakes, supporting local businesses and generating jobs. I can’t imagine anything more important to this region than preserving and protecting the lakes that make this area so special.”