MDI Biological Laboratory

Developing a Passion for Science

  • September 21, 2023

As a student working alongside Dr. Tom Maren in the late 1970s, Daphne Trotter (née Gardiner) developed a passion for science. Today as a member of the Bio Lab's Board of Trustees, Daphne is dedicated to supporting the next generation of young scientists.
Bulletin excerpt listing author names

Excerpt from 1980 MDI Biological Laboratory Bulletin, vol 20, no. 12.

My first experience at the MDI Biological Lab was as a lab assistant in the summer lab of Drs. Tom Maren and Erik Swenson in 1979 and 1980. We were studying the effects of inhibiting carbonic anhydrase, an enzyme that helps maintain homeostasis, on the regenerative capacity of salamanders. We wanted to see if the limbs of those treated with the drug known to inhibit carbonic anhydrase regenerated correctly, and they did. The work felt important to me, and Dr. Maren and his team’s efforts at the Lab ultimately resulted in a successful glaucoma drug.

For the teenage me, the work inspired and helped me to enter the pre-med program at Georgetown University. While I did not ultimately pursue a career in medicine, my interest in science, magnified by my experience at the Lab, and my English degree and work in my early 20s with the National Science Teachers Association, led to a fulfilling career as an environmental lawyer. I found my career choice to be a handsome match between an interest in science and a love of language. The world needs people who can explain scientific principles in plain English, and that is a skill that I have seen the Lab impart to young scientists working there today.

Although I have been a lifelong summer inhabitant of Mount Desert Island, I did not return to the Lab community until 2014, when I found that a vibrant year-round institution had evolved from the more informal summer community that I had known in the ’70s.

I am inspired by Drs. Hermann Haller and Iain Drummond, to name just two of the lab’s charismatic leaders, and recognize what a gem the Lab has become. Today it is an exciting, collaborative, professional environment where scientists young and old benefit from unbureaucratic opportunities to pursue vital research and valuable educational opportunities. I am proud to be a member of the MDI Biological Lab’s board of trustees since 2015, and my husband Andrew and I have made support of the Lab our top philanthropic priority.