SOLOMONS, MD (August 8, 2023)—The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL) has received a landmark donation of $1 million from Brian Hochheimer and Marjorie Wax. The substantial gift is intended to fund the Anthropogenic Changes in Estuarine Systems (ACES) Initiative, a significant five-year project centered on assessing water-use chemicals and their potentially detrimental effects on the environment and human health.
The Hochheimer-Wax donation is the most significant individual contribution to UMCES to date. It reinforces the family’s longstanding ties with the university’s foundation, tracing back to the 1950s, and emphasizes their commitment to environmental preservation. Recounting cherished memories, Brian Hochheimer, a Lusby and Catonsville, Maryland resident, remarked, “As a child, I remember strolling around Solomons with my grandfather, setting foot on the pier at CBL, and looking up to see Beaven Hall vigilantly overseeing the island. Solomons and CBL hold treasured memories for our children as well. It brings us immense joy to know that this donation will support CBL’s commendable efforts to ensure the Chesapeake Bay remains a source of wonder for future generations.”
Aiming to uphold the laboratory’s revered tradition of focusing on environmentally significant chemicals, this endowment will facilitate the purchase of advanced instruments and foster the creation of innovative analytical techniques. Such resources will enable UMCES scientists to detect detrimental contaminants in water bodies and evaluate their potential hazards.
A key aspect of the initiative includes scientists gathering water samples from the Patuxent River. The intent is to determine the repercussions of wastewater facilities discharging into the river and the ramifications of several indirect contributors like septic tank wastewater and agricultural runoff.
Expressing gratitude and stressing the initiative’s importance, Professor Carys Mitchelmore, Interim Director of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, stated, “The rise in human activities has spiked chemical presence in our environment. With this munificent donation, we can gauge these chemicals’ concentrations, dispersion, and water system alterations. Our newly acquired equipment can detect exceptionally low contaminant concentrations in natural settings – a pivotal move to spotlight emerging environmental threats.”
Adding to this sentiment, Professor Tom Miller, who helmed the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory for over ten years, emphasized the transformative impact of the donation. He noted how it propels researchers’ careers, placing UMCES and the Laboratory at the forefront of national research on identifying emerging contaminants and understanding their potential consequences.
The Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, situated at the confluence of the Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay, boasts the title of the East Coast’s oldest public marine laboratory. Established in 1925, it has consistently been at the forefront of research in fisheries, estuarine ecology, environmental chemistry, and toxicology. The lab’s scientists have consistently produced groundbreaking work on various aspects of environmental science, from advising on sustainable fisheries management to exploring nutrient dynamics. With this new donation, they are poised to address pressing environmental challenges head-on.