Dr. Mariana Bonfim, one of the faces of the Temple Ambler Field Station from the very beginning, has been appointed Acting Director of the Field Station through the end of the fiscal year.

Bonfim will be taking on this role following the departure of former Field Station Director Dr. Amy Freestone, who will be leading new research at the Smithsonian Institution.

Bonfim arrived at Temple and Dr. Freestone's Freestone Lab in 2015 having already amassed years of diverse research and teaching experience in Brazil. Growing up on Sao Luis Island in northeastern Brazil, where she completed her bachelor's and teaching degrees in Biological Sciences at Federal University of Maranhao, Bonfim developed a deep affinity for the sea and ecology, seeking to understand it and working towards ways to ensure that the ecosystems below those waters thrive.

She has been part of the Field Station since its inception in 2020, first as a research assistant while completing her doctoral degree at Temple and then as Assistant Director. During her time with the Temple Ambler Field Station, Bonfim has guided dozens of Field Station Research Interns through ongoing team research and individual research projects.

Bonfim has also taught the Department of Biology course on Disturbance Ecology, which was developed by the Field Station following the tornado that struck Temple Ambler in 2021. The goal of this and other courses taught by her and others at the Field Station is to provide an opportunity for students to study ecology at Temple Ambler from an inquiry-based approach.

Since arriving at Temple Ambler, Bonfim has been a strong supporter of collaborative community programming and educational opportunities for all ages offered by the Field Station, the Ambler Arboretum and Temple Ambler EarthFest.

"I think the most important thing that we can do is empower people, to give them a sense of ownership in the world around them — this place is yours to take care of," she said. "I think sometimes people tend to feel like science is too far away from them and it shouldn't be. These activities are a way to show them that they are part of it and that they are contributing to it — they are citizen scientists."