2018 Spring LC Magazine

alking into the Heim Science Center, you probably won’t realize that Professor Mel Zimmerman has retired. Academic posters showcasing his students’ work line the hallway, and if you look beyond the aquarium in the office of the Clean Water Institute (CWI), you might just find him working on a grant proposal or preparing students to help install a wastewater treatment system in rural Dominican Republic. While Zimmerman’s transition into retirement took him out of the classroom in 2016, his work — and his legacy — live on. IMMEDIATE IMPACT In 1979, Zimmerman was faced with a decision: work at a large research university or a small college. He chose Lycoming and never looked back. “When I came here, we worked in a converted brewery,” he recalls. “The chemistry labs had high ceilings because that’s where they used to keep the vats! Biology was a smaller program then. Now we have increased from four to seven faculty, added an ecology track, environmental science and sustainability minors, and had the freedom to develop the CWI.” Zimmerman jumped in by starting the Tropical Marine Biology May Term program during his first year. Since then, it has introduced students to everything from the ecology of coral reefs to scuba diving, which he brought to campus through a local dive shop. From the Hofstra Tropical Marine Lab in Jamaica, where he and his family spent a sabbatical, to Roatan, Honduras, to mangrove restoration in the Dominican Republic, students have participated in his May Term for more than 30 years. In 1984, he started what has become one of the longest running college summer programs for elementary and secondary school students, College for Kids, serving as its director for 20 years. BY PAULA COGAN MYERS An Ecological Legacy Professor Emeritus Mel Zimmerman, biology, has spent 37 years creating hands-on learning opportunities while championing environmental protection in the region. 18 LYCOMING COLLEGE 2018 SPRING MAGAZINE