The Ruth Patrick Award honors an aquatic scientist who has applied the use of aquatic sciences to solve critical environmental problems. ASLO has awarded Dr. James Cloern with this year’s Ruth Patrick Award in acknowledgement of his exceptional contributions to the scientific understanding and management of our world’s estuaries. Like Dr. Patrick, Dr. Cloern is an extraordinary phytoplankton ecologist who uses phytoplankton, and the biogeochemical and ecological processes they drive, as indicators of water quality and ecosystem condition. The award will be presented at the 2015 Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Granada, Spain, February 22-29, 2015.
For over 45 years, Dr. Cloern has devoted his career at the United States Geological Survey to understanding and elucidating the complexities of coastal ecosystems in the San Francisco Bay, and his highly influential work has changed the way scientists view algal dynamics in estuaries and significantly impacted environmental policy. His publications have been cited over 10,000 times.
Inspired by critical discoveries in his decades-long program, Dr. Cloern has extended his work to the policy arena and galvanized managers and regulatory authorities to enact change. His actions spurred a major regulatory initiative to establish nutrient-based water quality standards for San Francisco Bay, including mandated support for monitoring to continue the work of his landmark USGS program, and motivated a California state exotic species regulation. He also advocates for investment in long-term monitoring, educating decision makers in the U.S. Congress and Executive Branch.
In 2007, he conceived of and organized the first international meeting on “Long Time-Series Observations in Coastal Ecosystems: Comparative Analyses of Phytoplankton Dynamics on Regional to Global Scales” with the American Geophysical Union. This conference was the basis for numerous papers on phytoplankton variability across the world’s coastal ecosystems, and the seed for forming an international SCOR working group on global patterns of phytoplankton dynamics.
In addition to his extensive work in the San Francisco Bay, Dr. Cloern has made remarkable efforts to teach and mentor students and early career scientists presenting his tutorial, “A Brief Guide to Scientific Writing and Publishing,” at universities and science meetings all over the world, as well as making it available for download online.