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ASLO honors Evelyn Sherr and Barry Sherr with the 2016 A.C Redfield Lifetime Achievement Award

The A.C Redfield Lifetime Achievement award honors major, long-term achievements in the fields of limnology and oceanography, including research, education, and service to the community and society. Dr. Evelyn Sherr and Dr. Barry Sherr are the 2016 recipients of the A.C Redfield Award for their joint lifetime research on food-web interactions, protists, and the factors controlling the activity, growth, and survival of aquatic microorganisms. Drs. Evelyn and Barry Sherr are both Professors Emeritus in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. The award will be presented at the ASLO 2016 Summer Meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 5-10, 2016.

For nearly four decades, Evelyn and Barry Sherr have been a dynamic husband-wife team, challenging existing paradigms and revolutionizing the field of aquatic microbial ecology. Their research into the ecology and food web interactions of aquatic microbes has been instrumental in forming our present day understanding of the "microbial loop" and the importance of protists within aquatic food webs. Most recently, they provided new insights into the function of microzooplankton in arctic and subarctic plankton communities.

Evelyn did pioneering research in the 1970’s using stable carbon isotopes to explore coastal carbon dynamics. Her interest in elemental cycling led to a study with Barry Sherr on nitrogen dynamics in a salt marsh estuary. Soon after, they turned their attention to roles of phagotropic protists in remineralization, resulting in an influential paper on protistan bacterivory in the early 1980’s. Since then, Evelyn and Barry have worked together to illuminate the role of protists as significant controls on growth of planktonic bacteria and algae, and as pathways for carbon transfer from microbes to metazoans. They have explored microbial food web interactions in Lake Kinneret, Israel, in the Mediterranean Sea, in Southeastern US coastal waters, in the upwelling ecosystem off the Pacific Northwest, and in the Western Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea.

Another hallmark of the Sherrs’ research careers was the development and use of innovative techniques such as fluorescently labeled prey, CTC staining, flow cytometry, and cell signaling to answer their research questions. These techniques have since been widely adopted by a generation of microbial ecologists and continue to contribute to our understanding of aquatic microbial ecology. Beyond their academic achievements, the careers of Evelyn and Barry Sherr have been defined by their roles as selfless mentors to their graduate students, members of editorial boards for numerous journals (including Limnology & Oceanography), and advocates for scientific research in topics such as evolution and global warming.

Outstanding researchers in their own right, both Evelyn and Barry are individually deserving of the Redfield Award. However, their longtime collaboration has resulted in more than the sum of their parts. Over the years, the words "Sherr and Sherr" have almost become synonyms for "aquatic protists," "flagellates," "grazing," "predation," and other terms that are now commonly used in our field but which were not at all when they started.

"The Sherrs' research over the last decades has transformed our understanding of the relevance and function of microbes within aquatic food webs in oceans but also into lakes as well," ASLO President Jim Elser said in praise of the selection of the pair for the A.C Redfield Award. "Evelyn and Barry Sherr are true visionaries in their field and are richly deserving of this award."