History of SAML
on the Sea” Southern Association of Marine Laboratories: The
First 25 Years.” By John W. Tunnell, Jr. – Gulf of Mexico Science 2010,
vol. 28, No. 1/2.
The first organizational meeting for the Southern Association of Marine Laboratories (SAML) was held 5-6 December 1985 at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and hosted by Director Dr. Harold Howse. The meeting included 14 scientists from 11 marine labs and was chaired by Dr. Paul Sandifer. Positive discussions about the need and purpose for such an organization led to the development of Articles of Organization and Bylaws during Spring 1986 and the first official SAML meeting at the Gulf Coast Research Lab in May 1986. Harold Howse was chosen by the nominating committee as the sole nominee for President of the group. There were 20 regular and two associate members present at this inaugural meeting.
SAML meetings occurred two times per year between 1986 and 1998, then dropped to once per year in 1999 to present. Meetings are held at member laboratories, generally alternating between the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, so members get to see as many different labs as possible. Typically, meetings include an evening reception, followed by a one and one-half day meeting dealing with “internal” and “external” issues of operating a marine laboratory, including a tour of the local facilities. Internal issues include ideas and discussions to help member laboratories better deal with the day-to-day operations of a marine lab. External issues deal with broader, current state and national topics on marine research and education.
The idea for SAML, and certainly inspiration at its founding meeting, came from the Association of (Island) Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean (AMLC). This organization, which is the oldest of its type in the New World was founded in 1958 by Tom Goreau, then at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica (John Ogden, pers. comm.). The West Indies Laboratory of Fairleigh Dickinson University was a charter member of SAML, but it was completely destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in September 1989. Although some SAML labs seem to be threatened or hit by a hurricane each year, the West Indies Lab is the only one that has been permanently lost due to a storm.
Significant accomplishments of SAML since its inception include:
- Promotion of strong interaction among member laboratories
- Inspiration for the formation of NAML, WAML, and NEAMGLL
- Established initiatives in minority education in marine sciences
- Initiation of LABNET
- Contribution to NAML initiatives, e.g. congressional staffer forums
- Years of consistent and effective meetings for members
- Strong participation in the highly active NAML policy committee, dealing with national issues on coasts, oceans, and Great Lakes
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