ALTON — Ryan Hanlon met Anthony Dell while working on a promotional ﬁlm for the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center last year, and the two became fast friends.
Dell, a native Australian, is involved in groundbreaking research from Iceland to the Amazon and is a research ecologist stationed at the East Alton research center. The two share a common interest in bringing cutting-edge science to life with ﬁlmmaking. The two friends will meet as The Everyman and the Ecologist at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, using short ﬁlms to introduce scientiﬁc research of natural resources.
Hanlon, owner of Route 3 Films, will tell stories of conservation and exploration in nature through the art of ﬁlm. Dell and Natalie Marioni, director of environmental education and a citizen scientist at the center, will share news from the ﬁeld on both the research and education fronts. Hanlon invites the audience to participate in a conversation about what’s going on in freshwater and river research and education.
Hanlon is enthusiastic about the collaboration.
“This event is timely because Dr. Anthony Dell and I have been exploring how we can combine our efforts to bring scientiﬁc research projects to the public,” he said. “The ecologist, the educator and the everyman can only do so much on their own, but together we increase our chances of inspiring, educating and motivating more of our community and hopefully a larger audience as well.”
Route 3 Films has a special niche bringing an “everyman” lens to scientiﬁc discoveries.
“NGRREC is a unique institution with a realistic goal of becoming a global leader in understanding the socioecology of large river systems, not only locally in the conﬂuence region, but nationally and even across the planet,” Dell said.
Dell’s research seeks to “better understand how species interact with each other and the physical environment and the effect of these interactions on populations, communities and ecosystems.” He is “interested in understanding how humans are altering these relationships and identifying ways these effects can be best ameliorated to beneﬁt both nature and society.”
Dell recently returned from an expedition to Iceland, where he led a team using geothermal streams to explore how temperature affects how animals move, behave and interact with each other, such as predators and their prey, or competitors. “This work has obvious relevance to understanding how natural ecosystems are responding to climate change,” he said. “As Earth’s temperature changes, the ﬁrst components of ecosystems that will be affected are the interactions between organisms, and a key goal of our research is to understand, and ultimately predict, what these changes will be. All the different microbes, plants and animals that comprise ecosystems and the ecological interactions between them, are critical for maintaining the ecosystem, the services we depend on so much, such as pollination of crops or water ﬁltration by wetlands. Being based at NGRREC on the banks of the Mississippi River provides a unique opportunity to understand these issues in the context of large river systems.”
The Everyman and the Ecologist explores the intersection of ecology, education and art, the art of ﬁlmmaking and storytelling. “Everyone in the world should know about NGRREC and what these scientists and educators are doing for big river research and conservation,” Hanlon said. “With only so much clean fresh water to go around, my hope is that these rivers, all rivers, will get the attention and protection they deserve ... and anything I can do to help, I will.”
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at Jacoby Arts Center, 627 E. Broadway. A free sampling of organic craft beer is provided by Old Bakery Beer Company. The Everyman and the Ecologist accompanies the exhibit “Running Water: Riverwork Project and Watershed Cairns,” which is also on view at Audubon Center at Riverlands and the National Great Rivers Museum. Free admission; all are welcome.