BAR HARBOR — Carol Bult was a leading scientist in the nation’s capital working on groundbreaking genetic research when she decided to take a break from the Beltway traffic. She took a sabbatical at the University of Maine in 1997 to work as a visiting scholar, when she found her way to The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, one of the foremost cancer research centers in the world.

Once on Mount Desert Island, Bult, a cyclist, quickly found her way to the national park beside the laboratory, and in Acadia National Park found everything that was missing in her life.

Now Bult cycles with her wife, Lili Pew, on Acadia’s Park Loop Road, up the park’s Cadillac Mountain road, and across its historic carriage roads. She also volunteers time as a member of Acadia’s volunteer bike patrol and serves on a local search-and-rescue team that helps find lost hikers in the park.

“She bikes the park on a pretty regular basis. She is very serious and dedicated to that. And in her spare time, she is active on the MDI Search and Rescue. They are right there with us helping to recover lost hikers,” said John Kelly, Acadia spokesman.

At The Jackson Laboratory, Bult’s day job is as demanding as ever. She is the laboratory’s principal investigator studying the complex relationship between genes and cancer, and the deputy director of its cancer center working as one of the leading scientists studying human tumors. The difference now, Bult said, is this stunning national park that she lives beside.

“In Acadia, I have time for reflection,” Bult said. “I can step into the park and just be with myself and my thoughts, then do this community-driven work with park visitors and help them better enjoy the park. It’s a way to give back for a place my family and I love to spend time. It’s visceral. You’re not experiencing it in a book. I think it’s an important part of wellness.”

Bult smiles easily as she enters Acadia’s carriage roads wearing her royal blue collared bike patrol shirt. She doesn’t see this volunteer work, to which she commits about six hours a week, as her helping the park. It’s a way to say thank you for 57 miles of quiet coastal stone-dust trails that rise out of the woods to views of the Atlantic Ocean, and for rugged, wild seaside scenery that is a part of her weekly cycle routes.

She gets to play every day in one of the most-visited national parks in the country, and the opportunity is not lost on her.

“It’s like a dream to be able to do the work I do and then to have this as my backyard,” Bult said.

– Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming