Sophie Glovier on Princeton’s trails

Don’t miss Sophie Glovier’s free trailwalking event this May 6! And while you’re at it, hit the trails to find a geocached copy of the book.

Walk the Trails in and Around PrincetonGlovier by Sophie Glovier is an attractive, pocket-friendly guide to walks on sixteen of the best trails through preserved open space in Princeton, New Jersey, and its neighboring towns. This revised edition includes eight new walks, several of which have been created on land that has been preserved since the popular guide was originally published in 2009. The walks range from two to four miles, but many include suggestions for trail connections that allow you to extend your hike if you choose. The guide includes detailed color maps of the trails, directions on how to get to them and where to park, and recommendations for the most scenic routes. Each walk has been designed with a “reason to walk” in mind: a special boulder or waterfall to find, a bit of local history or a beautiful vista to enjoy. Recently, Glovier took the time to answer some questions about her new book.

Why did you think there was a need for a trail guide to our area?

SG: When I moved to Princeton and got involved with D&R Greenway Land Trust and Friends of Princeton Open Space, I realized that there was a lot of preserved land in town, but much of it was hidden from view and not well known. For example, many people don’t realize that we have two areas of more than 270 acres each within easy walking distance of town (The Mountain Lakes Open Space Area and the Institute Woods). As I started to walk the trails and get to know them, I would often take friends along. At the end of our walk they often told me that they had loved the trail, but didn’t think they would come back by themselves without getting lost. That’s when I decided to create Walk the Trails In and Around Princeton.

How much open space is there around here?

SG: Just in Princeton we have over 1,000 acres of open space and more than 20 miles of trails. Many people think of hiking as something to do when you travel to far off places, but I love that there are so many places to enjoy nature right here. When you walk in the woods of Woodfield Reservation (124 acres) or Herrontown Woods (141 acres) you can walk miles without seeing a house or hearing a car. Plus, I like to tell people that even though you feel far away, it is hard to get too lost!

Who is this book for?

SG: There is a trail in this book for almost everyone. I have included some short walks like the Scott & Hella McVay Poetry trail in Greenway Meadows, and some walks that are completely on a paved surface like Skillman Park. There are many walks that young parents can easily do with a baby jogger. There are also longer trails for walking or running, like the 4-mile route through Mercer Meadows. In addition, in the book I offer suggestions for trail connections to build a longer walk, and provide some good websites to explore for more trail ideas.

“Poetry Trail” in Greenway Meadows

Why is walking in open space so important to you?

SG: There have been many studies documenting the physical and mental health benefits of walking outdoors for people of all fitness levels. I think lots of people would agree that being outside is especially important now that many of us live our lives with so much time looking at our electronic devices. It is also really important to me that people who live here make a connection to our open space. When you walk or run outside you start to notice the plants, birds and animals in a way that you don’t when you drive by in a car. I think it is really important that we preserve open space and take good care of it, and people are more likely to do that if they have a connection with the natural world.

What are some of your favorite places?

SG: I have lots of favorite walks and where I go often depends on the time of year and the weather outside. On a very hot day, I really enjoy the Stony Brook Trail off Rosedale Road that runs along the stream. In the fall, I love to go to Mercer Meadows, to see the big swathes of color that the wild flowers make. On snowy days I like to snowshoe through the Woodfield Reservation to look for the tracks the animals have made. I might decide to go to the St. Michaels Farm Preserve to look for the kestrels that have taken up residence there or to visit Wargo Pond at the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association in late spring to look for baby turtles resting on a log.

Who takes care of the trails?

SG: Keeping our trails cleared is a big job and we are lucky to have many volunteers in our area who work hard to do this all year. If you are interested in working on the trails, or in making a contribution to support their maintenance, my website has a list of local nonprofits that do this work. In addition, a portion of the proceeds of this book will be donated for trail maintenance. Sales of Walk the Trails In and Around Princeton have already raised over $10,000 for this purpose.

Sophie Glovier is an author and environmental advocate who is passionate about the preservation of open space and the importance of connecting people to nature. She is a member of the Princeton Environmental Commission and has served as a board member of D&R Greenway Land Trust, Friends of Princeton Open Space, and The Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association. She is the author of Walk the Trails in and around Princeton: Revised to Include the Newest Trails.

Marilyn Roossinck: 101 viruses

Viruses are seldom considered beautiful, though visually, many are in fact stunning. While the sheer mention of them usually brings on vigilant hand-washing, some are actually beneficial to their hosts, and many are crucial to the health of our planet. Virus: An Illustrated Guide to 101 Incredible Microbes by Marilyn Roosinck offers an unprecedented look at 101 incredible microbes that infect all branches of life on Earth—from humans and other animals to insects, plants, fungi, and bacteria. Recently, Roosinck answered some questions about her gorgeously illustrated new book.

How did you come to study viruses?

MR: I started college at the Community College of Denver as an adult student (I was 22 years old), with a plan to go take two years of courses and then transfer to nursing school. I took a Microbiology course and when we studied bacterial viruses, I was totally smitten by how amazing viruses were, these very small and simple entities that could change everything! I ripped up my application to nursing school and instead transferred to the University of Colorado to pursue a degree in Biology. There were two biology departments at that time: Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology; and Environmental, Populational and Organismal Biology, so I did a double major and got a degree in both programs. As an undergraduate I did an independent study in a lab working on SV40, a model for many studies on mammalian viruses. I applied to the University of Colorado School of Medicine for graduate school, and I received my Ph.D. from that institution in 1986, doing a thesis on Hepatitis B virus.

Why 101 viruses?

MR: The original plan was to include 100 viruses, a nice round number and enough to allow a broad range of viruses, including those infecting all the major host groups, from bacteria to humans. Near press time the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil was attracting a lot of attention in the press, so we felt it was important to include Zika. We did not really want to remove one of the viruses that were already in the book, because these were chosen carefully, and each entry seemed important for the complete picture, so, borrowing from Hollywood, we decided 101 would also have a nice ring.

How did you choose the viruses described in the book?

MR: Making up the list of viruses to include in the book took a lot of thought. I wanted to cover every type of virus and every type of host. I also wanted to include some viruses that people would be very aware of, like influenza and Ebola. There are more human viruses in the book than those that infect any other host, because they are more thoroughly studied, and most of them are familiar to people. I also wanted to include viruses that were pathogens and those that were not. It may come as a surprise to many people that some viruses benefit their hosts, and several of these are included in the book too. I also got some help from colleagues. After making up the initial list I sent it out to a large number of virologists for comment, and I took these ideas into consideration too. Of course many people were sure that the virus they were studying was the most important virus and should be included, but I tried to ignore this as a basis for inclusion.

Do you have a favorite virus?

MR: It is hard to pick a favorite, there are so many viruses that have a fascinating natural history, or that can dramatically affect their hosts. One of my students in a Virus Ecology course that I teach at Penn State summed it up pretty well. I was introducing the topic of the how poliovirus became a serious problem in the 20th century due to changes in water treatment, and I said, “this is one of my favorite virus stories”. The student replied, “you say that about everything”.

What viruses do you work with in your own lab?

MR: I have spent about 30 years working on Cucumber mosaic virus, a serious crop pathogen that has the broadest host range of any known virus: it can infect 1200 different plant species! This means it has been very successful from an evolutionary point of view, so it is an excellent model for studying virus evolution. For the past decade I also have been studying viruses that infect fungi. My interest in these viruses began when we discovered a fungal virus in Yellowstone National Park that was beneficial to its host, allowing it to survive very high temperatures found in the geothermal areas of the park. This sparked an interest in viruses that help their hosts adapt to extreme environments, and we do a lot of work now on beneficial viruses in plants and fungi. We also are interested in the diversity of viruses, and we have done some studies looking for viruses in wild plants: there are a lot, and most of them are novel.

virus roossinck jacketMarilyn J. Roossinck is professor of virus ecology in the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology at Pennsylvania State University. She lives in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Roossinck is the author of Virus: An Illustrated Guide to 101 Incredible Microbes.