Baltimore Harbor Watchman

Meet the Watchcrew

Get to know Dr. Place and his project team

Watchman Dr. Al Place

A native of Norwalk, Connecticut, Dr. Place received his B.A. and subsequently his Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland. He began his work with the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute in Baltimore, Maryland in 1987. He assumed his present position in 2001 as Professor for the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET).

His approach to biological research has always crossed traditional boundaries with a strong conviction in the "comparative approach," be it at the molecular, cellular, or organismal level. In essence, his laboratory war cry is “Research Without Boundaries.” Place believes our knowledge of biological processes is too strongly biased by our willingness to accept the rat, mouse, or cell line as "model systems.” The central question which drives his research is, "What are the fundamental structures and functions of living systems that can be adaptively modified to allow an organism to exploit the diversity of habitats we observe in nature?"

Watchwoman Jenn Wolny

Wolny left New Jersey in 1992 to attend Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania with the intent on becoming a researcher working on the Human Genome Project. Her sophomore year she was required to take a course titled "Plants, Protists & Fungi" and became immediately hooked on the beauty, diversity and complexness of protists. She spent the next three years studying freshwater phytoplankton taxonomy and ecology.

In 1996, she earned her B.S. in biology and biochemistry and went on to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia to pursue a master's degree with Dr. Harold Marshall, a world-renowned expert in phytoplankton taxonomy and the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. She graduated from ODU in 1999 and left for Florida to work for another world-renowned phytoplankton expert, Dr. Karen Steidinger. After more than a decade of studying the red tide dinoflagellate Karenia brevis in the Gulf of Mexico she has returned to the Chesapeake Bay region, via the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, to lend her hand in partnering emerging technologies for harmful algal bloom monitoring with the traditional science of phytoplankton taxonomy. Wolny has never met a dinoflagellate that she didn’t love.