Job: Site Coordinator, Potomac Science Center
Dee Arrington, the site coordinator at George Mason University’s Potomac Science Center, has one of the best “offices” at the university. Since 2017, she has worked at the 50,000-square-foot LEED Silver-certified research facility located along Belmont Bay near the mouth of the Occoquan River in Woodbridge, Virginia.
With a bachelor’s degree in aquaculture, fisheries, and wildlife biology from Clemson University, Arrington applies these skills to support the center, which includes laboratories for teaching and research, lecture rooms, event space, outdoor trails, and more.
Focused on the Environment: The site is home to several Mason research centers, including the Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center, Vessel Dynamics Laboratory, Furst Lab, and the Flood Hazards Research Lab. Arrington says the ability to conduct research on the water is essential for these researchers, but don’t forget to take a look around. “When you visit, be sure to bring your camera and binoculars. It’s not uncommon to catch an osprey or bald eagle in flight near the center,” she said.
Part of the Ecosystem. Large aquariums were recently installed in the exhibit gallery, allowing visitors to get a close look at local fish. In 2021, international graffiti artist TakerOne created the mural “Fauna of Belmont Bay,” which beautifies the adjacent parking garage and celebrates the local ecosystem. A 250-square-foot exterior wall that faces the bay is covered in plantings and supported by harvested rainwater. “The facility has many intentional design features to reduce electric costs. Building condensate and rainwater are used to irrigate our living wall,” Arrington says.
On Golden Ponds. Before coming to Mason, Arrington was the pond manager at a fish hatchery in South Carolina, where she managed the daily operations of more than 20 ponds, led research projects, and helped maintain the facility and its grounds. This expertise helps her convey the important work and mission of the center to visitors. “Given my background, I am familiar with various scientific equipment, standard laboratory protocols, and the requirements of principal investigators,” Arrington said.
On the Ball: Outside work, soccer is one of Arrington’s greatest passions. She played soccer as an undergraduate at Clemson and was inducted into the school's Ring of Honor, the highest accolade a Tiger student-athlete can receive. She also played soccer professionally with the Philadelphia Charge and has coached soccer at the college and youth levels. "Soccer has been a huge part of my life and has afforded me many opportunities to travel the country and play with the best players in the world,” Arrington says.
Be Our Guest: The waterfront facility’s scenic location also makes it an appealing event destination for many, and Arrington plays a vital role in supporting the daily logistics and operations. Events can include team retreats, small conferences and workshops, and even the occasional wedding. She also leads tours for community members and others. “Every day is different, and that is one of the reasons I enjoy working here,” Arrington said. “Did I mention the beautiful views?”
Mentoring Little Explorers. “We have an almost three-year-old and a border collie mix that keep us on our toes” at home, Arrington said. “Our little girl loves exploring outside, taking swim lessons, and putting on her princess dresses. Our seven-year-old dog still acts like a puppy and enjoys swimming, hiking in the woods, and chasing sticks.”
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