ALTON — Ryan Hanlon met Anthony Dell while working on a promotional film for the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC) last year, and the two became fast friends. Tony Dell, a native Australian, is involved in groundbreaking research from Iceland to the Amazon and is a research ecologist stationed at NGRREC in East Alton. Tony and Ryan share a common interest in bringing cutting edge science to life with filmmaking. On Thursday, October 13, at 7pm, the two friends meet as The Everyman and the Ecologist using short films to introduce scientific research of our natural resources.

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Ryan Hanlon, owner of Route 3 Films, tells unique stories of conservation and exploration in nature through the art of film. Tony Dell and Natalie Marioni, Director of Environmental Education and Citizen Scientist at NGRREC, share news from the field on both the research and education fronts. Ryan Hanlon invites the audience to participate in a conversation about what is going on with fresh water and great rivers research and education.

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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. 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 complex, critical 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,” says Tony Dell.

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. He explains, “This work has obvious relevance to understanding how natural ecosystems are responding to climate change. 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 story telling. “Everyone in the world should know about NGRREC and what these scientists and educators are doing for big river research and conservation,” says Hanlon. “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 6:30pm. A free sampling of organic craft beer is provided by Old Bakery Beer Co. 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.

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