ASLO Award Recipient Talks

The ASLO Award Recipient lectures will be on Wednesday morning followed by dedicated poster sessions.

Alfred C. Redfield Lifetime Achievement Award to Jörg Imberger

Cited by David Hamilton, University of Waikato, New Zealand

Jörg Imberger has dedicated his career to understanding the transport and motion of water and how this understanding can be scaled to whole systems, particularly in relation to the dynamics of lakes. He has made an outstanding and sustained contribution to physical limnology over a period of 35 years, commencing initially with fundamental investigations into selective withdrawal from stratified fluids and extending to more holistic understanding of ecosystems and sustainability.

Jörg graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1970, with his dissertation work with Hugo Fisher still forming a primary scientific basis for the design of structures and reservoir operations that provide important water quality benefits throughout the world. He then held a postdoctoral appointment at the California Institute of Technology, followed by a faculty position at Berkeley. Jörg was appointed to full Professor at the University of Western Australia in 1978 at the age of 36, at that time the youngest full professor in Australia in the field of engineering.

Jörg has used a combination of fundamental observations, theory and modeling to define the field of physical limnology. Key papers still provide essential references on the subject and include:

  • His 1980 Journal of Physical Oceanography paper with former Ph.D. student Bob Spigel, which provided new insights into the role of wind and basin shape in lake mixing processes;
  • His 1985 L&O paper on the diurnal mixed layer, which provided the basis of future developments of hydrodynamic models such as DYRESM, which was instrumented through Jörg’s innovative computational approaches, and
  • Arguably the reference on the subject of physical limnology in his 1990 paper in Advances in Applied Mechanics with colleague John Patterson.

Jörg’s research and insights, as well as the models that he has developed, have led to improvements in the quality of many waterbodies, which have had benefits to a large number of communities around the world. Jörg has undertaken major collaborative research projects on lakes, estuaries and coastal areas in many countries, and students and colleagues who have worked alongside Jörg on these projects will know of his inexhaustible drive to understand these systems, to collect data on them and to pursue scientific excellence. Jörg has been recognized internationally for these contributions, and included amongst his many awards are the Stockholm Water Prize from the King of Sweden in 1996, for his contribution to Environmental Fluid Dynamics, and the Onassis Prize from the President of Greece in the category “Man and his Environment”.

Given Jörg’s international sphere of influence, it is important not to overlook his influence locally. Jörg played the primary role in establishing the first Department of Environmental Engineering in Australia in 1992, built on a premise that all engineers needed to incorporate elements of design and sustainability in all of their functions. Graduates from this rigorous undergraduate and graduate program are widely acclaimed by industry and in academia, while graduate students and post-docs advised and mentored by Jörg now provide a new generation of internationally renowned researchers in environmental fluid dynamics.

Jörg’s insights continue to influence the way that limnology is conducted today and his innovation and dedication make him a truly worthy recipient of the Redfield Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Ruth Patrick Award for Environmental Problem Solving to George Kling

Cited by Anne Giblin and John E. Hobbie, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA

Throughout his career Prof. George Kling has used excellent science to make a sustained contribution to solving environmental problems in three areas: Degassing of Cameroon lakes, regional carbon balance in the Arctic, and lake responses to environmental perturbation. George Kling’s strong research and diligent and sustained leadership in the implementation of a solution to this serious life-threatening problem at Lake Nyos stand out as exemplifying the combination of excellence in science and substantive and direct engagement with environmental problem solving that this award is intended to recognize. In addition, we value George’s effort in bringing scientific expertise to Cameroon and appreciate the challenges that were overcome in finding sustainable solutions for that region.

George was part of the first team of scientists who went to Cameroon after the 1986 catastrophic degassing of Lake Nyos when 1700 people were killed when toxic gases were suddenly released from the lake. At the time he was still a graduate student working on Cameroon lakes as part of his thesis. In spite of his junior status, he soon became a leader and was the senior author on the group’s finding. Subsequently, George and co-workers continued to study the problem and determined that the lakes in the region were again recharging so that another event could occur. In spite of government warnings, the valleys of these lakes were being re-populated so another degassing event would again result in a tragically large loss of life. He realized that science alone would not solve the problem and helped keep the issue alive by giving numerous TV and radio interviews and was quoted in dozens of newspaper and magazine articles.

Prof. Kling became chair of an international advisory group to examine ways to safely degas the lakes. Eventually, the first permanent degassing column was assembled and set up in January 2001 at Lake Nyos by a French team with pipes that lift deep water to the surface to create a soda fountain. The main part of the funding came from the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance with contributions from the French Embassy in Cameroon and the Cameroonian Government participated in the financial and logistical support. Prof. Kling continues to study the problem and continues to push for additional pipes to further reduce the potential for disaster.

His work is extraordinary because he didn’t stop once he had identified the problem, but continues to take an active role in the solution. Therefore, the citation for the Ruth Patrick Award reads “George Kling has made a major contribution to our understanding of catastrophic lake degassing in Cameroon and for the last 20 years has tirelessly worked to implement the political and engineering solutions necessary to prevent a repetition of this catastrophe.”

G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award for A Mid-career Scientist to John P. Smol

Cited by Brian F. Cumming, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

The G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award is given to an aquatic scientist who has excelled, following the traditions set down by Hutchinson himself, in holistic research. An outstanding researcher, mentor and ambassador for science, John P. Smol is a truly exceptional recipient for the G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award. Few could rival his record in research, teaching, service, and public outreach. John received his Ph.D. in 1982. Since 1980, he has authored over 320 journal papers and chapters (including 10 in Science and Nature, and 3 in PNAS) dealing with a suite of topics on limnology, paleolimnology, and global environmental change. He has also completed 15 books – almost all in multiple printings – and another book nearing completion. In addition, his recent and highly praised textbook: Pollution of Lakes and Rivers: A Paleoenvironmental Perspective had sold out so quickly, he is now rapidly writing the 2nd edition. Four books that he has recently edited summarize the myriad of new approaches available to paleolimnologists. He has authored almost 600 conference presentations; many of these were invited and several were opening keynote addresses. John is listed as an ISI Highly Cited Researcher, one of only a handful of limnologists (and the only paleolimnologist) to reach this designation.

John was instrumental in moving paleolimnology from a largely descriptive science to a quantitative and precise science. He has played the pre-eminent role at melding paleoecological techniques with limnological studies. His work encompasses many aspects of fundamental and applied limnology. He founded and now co-directs the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab – PEARL, with over 30 researchers, consisting of students and research associates, devoting their efforts to studying the history of lake environments. His lab is not only world-renowned for its outstanding research excellence, but also for its high morale and contagious enthusiasm. As noted by Dan Livingstone “he does this in an easy, friendly way while maintaining a spirit of camaraderie that is the envy of all who visit his lab”. John’s team works on projects that range from the description of new bioindicators of environmental change, to the study of lake trajectories in the Arctic, to problems such as lake acidification and eutrophication, to studies of climatic change and UV penetration, to developing paleolimnological techniques to track salmon and bird populations, to working with archaeologists to decipher how past cultures have affected freshwater ecosystems. He has pursued an integrated approach, using several sub-disciplines (as reflected in his eclectic list of awards, from botany to geology to limnology to environmental issues), and multiple lines of evidence to interpret the paleolimnological histories of lakes. Amongst John’s greatest achievements, though, would include his massive work on the limnology and paleolimnology of Arctic regions, and he has now completed over 20 high Arctic field seasons.

John’s pre-eminence in science is recognized world-wide. Nothing can speak more strongly about the esteem in which he is held by his colleagues than the fact that, at the age of 30, he was asked to be founding editor (and continues on as co-editor-in chief with W. Last) of the Journal of Paleolimnology. This journal is now celebrating 20 years of publication. Some of the success of this international journal (currently ranked 2nd of the 17 limnology journals ranked by ISI for impact factors, and 1st of 17 in the immediacy factor) results from John’s continued stewardship as editor. John is now also Editor-in-Chief of a second journal: Environmental Reviews. In addition, he is involved with the editing of books (e.g., series co-editor of the new book series “Developments in Paleoenvironmental Research”, which currently has 13 titles) and is or has been on the editorial boards of a number of other journals (e.g., Limnology and Oceanography - Methods; J. Phycology, Int. J. Salt Lake Research, J. Limnology, etc.). He has recently enthusiastically agreed to co-edit an L&O special issue on climate change. In addition, he is a frequent organizer of conference sessions, including several at ASLO, as well on the scientific advisory committee for the upcoming SIL conference. John has served or serves on a large number of panels and review committees, which are simply too numerous to mention.

John has been awarded over 25 medals, awards, and fellowships since 1990. For example, John’s pre-eminence in science has been recognized with the award (1990) of the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s highest award for young scientists or engineers. In 1991 he received a citation for “...outstanding contributions ...” to the U.S. National Acid Precipitation Program (NAPAP). The Botanical Society of America awarded John their 1992 Darbaker Prize for his work on algae. In 1993, he was presented with the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) Research Award for “outstanding research in lake restoration, protection and management”. In 1993 he was also awarded the National Research Council’s Steacie Prize, as Canada’s most outstanding young scientist. John was elected a Fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America in 1993. In 1994 he was presented with the Queen’s University Prize for Excellence in Research. He has chosen by the Canadian Society of Limnologists as the 1995 Rigler Prize winner, and the Canada Council awarded him a Killam Fellowship (1995-1997). In 1996, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Academy of Sciences. In 1997, he was presented with the University of Helsinki Award Medal, representing the field of physical geography, as well as the Geological Association of Canada’s (GAC) Past-Presidents’ Medal, for outstanding contributions to the geosciences. The GAC also elected him as one of their few Distinguished Fellows. In 1999, he was presented with the Turku Academia Medal. In 2000, he was named the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, and in 2001 he was presented with the Royal Society of Canada’s Miroslav Romanowski Medal (environment medal), and in 2002 with an Ontario Researcher of Distinction award. In June 2003, St Francis Xavier University conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree on John for “…for his contributions to lake ecology and understanding the underlying causes of environmental change…”. In 2003, he was awarded one of three NSERC Award for Excellence prizes, and in December 2004 he was awarded Canada’s highest scientific and engineering honor: the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering “…for his efforts in bringing paleolimnology to world attention, and for discoveries, innovative techniques and research protocols that are influencing public policy on issues related to climate change, water pollution and the protection of the Arctic environment”. Last summer, the Canadian Quaternary Association of the Geological Association of Canada presented John with the W.A. Johnston Medal, which is the life-time achievement award offered by CANQUA for professional excellence in Quaternary research for his work on paleolimnology. In May 2007, the University of Helsinki will bestow on John the degree PhD (honoris causa) for his outstanding contributions to aquatic sciences.

One must add that, in addition to his research prowess, John is an excellent and inspirational teacher and mentor. Perhaps the most telling evidence of his talents as a mentor is the continued and steady success of his graduates at securing excellent academic jobs. His dedication to his graduate students and post docs (he has mentored over 70 of them, and without a single withdrawal!) is legendary. This fall, John was the recipient of the inaugural Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision; a new award recognizing excellence in graduate student supervision. Meanwhile, his undergraduate courses are often over-subscribed, and he was twice awarded the Biology Department’s Best Professor Award. In March 2000, he was awarded the W. J. Barnes Teaching Excellence Award, Arts and Science Undergraduate Society, which is “the highest tribute the Society can pay to an individual for teaching excellence”. Completing a large sweep of teaching awards, John was also the recipient of the 2006 Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award, perhaps the university’s highest award for education. His teaching, however, goes beyond Queen’s boundaries. For example, he is frequently a visiting professor or guest lecturer at many universities. He is well known in political circles as a never tiring advocate for the environment and the importance of scientific research to reach sound policy decisions. Rarely does a week goes by that John is not being interviewed by the media. He has worked tirelessly for a number of aquatic societies. John also frequently volunteers his time to local environmental groups, as well as public education.

As evidenced by the impressive range of his publications, awards, and other accomplishments, John Smol exemplifies excellence in scholarly limnological research. Perhaps John was best summarized by David Schindler, one of his nominators, who concluded his letter by saying “John is simply a fine human being, who always has time to discuss problems of others. No task is too large or too small for him. He is one of the most generous individuals I know, regardless of discipline”.

This is a remarkable career record for any scientist. However, the award holds special significance to John, as he is an “academic grandson” to the Hutchinson legacy, as his Ph.D. supervisor was S.R. (Ted) Brown, one of Hutchinson’s students. John is committed to demonstrating the importance of sound scientific principles when it comes to addressing such critically important issues as water quality and ecosystem management. We can only wonder what else he has in store for his future research, teaching, and outreach activities.

Lindeman Award for the Outstanding Paper In Aquatic Science by a Young Scientist to Kelly M. Dorgan

Cited by Peter A. Jumars, School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Walpole, Maine, USA

DORGAN, K.M., P.A. JUMARS, B. JOHNSON, B.P. BOUDREAU, and E. LANDIS. 2005. Burrowing by crack propagation through muddy sediment. Nature 433: 475.

Kelly Dorgan anticipates obtaining her Ph.D. in 2007 from the School of Marine Sciences of the University of Maine. Dorgan’s research addresses the mechanics of burrowing in marine sediments, with an eye toward sedimentary consequences as well as functional morphology. The significance of her work can best be appreciated by comparing current understanding of swimming mechanics to those of burrowing. No serious analysis of animal swimming would omit critical properties of the fluid, namely dynamic viscosity and fluid density. Yet, paradoxically, no prior study of burrowing had incorporated relevant physical properties of the medium in analysis of the mechanisms and costs of burrowing. When she began her work it was not even evident what physical parameters were most relevant. The problem was “clear as mud.” How animals moved through soils was an issue that troubled Darwin in his lesser-known book on worms (reviewed in 2006 by Filip Meysman in Trends in Ecology and Evolution), and Darwin hypothesized that the only way that this difficult feat could be accomplished was by literally eating through the medium.

The issue is important in several ways. From a physiological standpoint, earlier studies had led to the conclusion that burrowing is the most energetically expensive means of animal locomotion per body length moved. Consequences of burrowing are many. It is not yet clear, for example, to what extent feeding and burrowing, respectively, contribute to the process known as bioturbation that literally gates the burial of organic matter as well as pollutants.

I’ve tried to get several students started on this problem before, but the time was finally right. Bruce Johnson and Bernie Boudreau with their coworkers had recently discovered that bubbles move through sediments by propagating cracks using only the forces of their buoyancy and surface tension. Simple linear elastic theory of crack propagation pointed to two parameters as key: Young’s modulus (stress to produce a given strain) and the stress intensity at which the material would fail (resulting in a crack). Moreover, these parameters also were sufficient to predict the shape of the crack. The forces involved were modest and appeared well within the realm of animal capabilities.

The problem Dorgan had to solve was how to analyze forces in the geometrically complicated setting of a burrowing animal. Dorgan started with the same approach that Johnson and Boudreau had used, employing seawater-gelatin as a sediment mimic that allowed visualization. She added another step, however, by applying a technique called photoelasticity that uses polarized light to locate and quantify the stress fields produced in birefringent, transparent solids. After calibration, this method allows direct estimation of the forces of burrowing. The results show the mechanical costs of burrowing to be over an order of magnitude lower than previously thought. Cracks in mud propagate relatively easily, just like the ones in automobile windshields.

The time to approach this problem also is right from several other perspectives. Nanotechnology has greatly improved the art of making artificial materials with novel mechanical properties, and Dorgan is using its recipes to make better mechanical mimics of mud. Engineering of complex materials has also greatly advanced through numerical modeling of complex composites (e.g., the literally concrete example). Dorgan has taken the engineering courses that allow her to apply these approaches to the burrowing problem.

An immediate consequence of the results published in this “ground-breaking” paper was a revolution in understanding the morphologies of burrowing animals. Clams are wedges. A mud-burrowing amphipod is shaped just like half of an oblate spheroidal bubble with legs; the carapace is driven by the legs to form the crack. Subterminal expansions of worms exert lateral or radial forces that propagate cracks axially. The insights garnered from an understanding of mud mechanics quickly produced an entire review paper on burrowing (Dorgan et al. 2006 in Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review). Analogous mechanics appear to govern root growth, including the making of cracks in the mortar of ivy-covered walls.

Like any good solution to long-standing scientific problems, this new understanding of burrowing raises further questions and hypotheses. One that Dorgan is including within her Ph.D. work is how the biomechanics of burrowing and the exerted forces change with animal morphology and size. We also know that simple behavior of sediments as ideal solids breaks down on even fairly short time scales due to creep (incomplete elastic rebound) and frictional dissipation of elastic stored energy, and Dorgan is incorporating some experimental work along these lines as well. In general, the interaction of animal movements and sediment responses need new parameterizations in more accurate models of bioturbation.

Dorgan’s work has received other rapid recognition, some of it more than a little unusual. Popular Science magazine chose her in its October 2006 issue as one of its “Fifth Annual Brilliant 10,” giving her the unenviable nickname of “Worm Whisperer.” Fans of intelligent design immediately seized upon her refutation of Darwin’s hypothesis of burrowing mechanism to challenge Darwin’s credibility in his better known theory of evolution. The resulting controversy, involving a newly elected member of the Ohio State Board of Education, is chronicled in the Panda’s Thumb blog. Less seriously, the work is a punster’s dream: Worms go better with Jell-O; Worms make wise cracks.

How Dorgan got so far so fast is certainly due in major ways to her abilities and efforts, but they have been well supported by a succession of mentors and practical experiences. She became interested in marine science as a high school intern working with Linda Schaffner at Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (VIMS) on the effects of disturbance on benthic communities, later incorporating the effects of tidal and wave energy on benthic communities with the help of Carl Friedrichs. She also worked with Jacques van Montfrans at VIMS for two summers on the role of seagrass beds as nurseries for recreationally important fish species. As an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz, she worked with Don Potts, completing a senior thesis on accumulation of heavy metals by mussels in Elkhorn Slough, CA. She also interned with Terry Gosliner and Angel Valdes at the California Academy of Sciences studying nudibranch taxonomy. Dorgan was a summer intern here at the Darling Marine Center with me before deciding on graduate school.

Another reason for the quick start was funding stability. She was given broad latitude to attack a difficult question by competing successfully for both the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowship, giving her five years of funding without concerns of delivering on a particular proposal topic. We were able to tailor a very talented advisory committee on this particular question, including Eric Landis, a structural engineer at the University of Maine chosen by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education for its 2006 Professor of the Year Award for his outstanding teaching. His teaching and advising have given Kelly the solid base and advanced engineering research tools needed to make a spectacular advance in mechanics of burrowing. As but one example, he arranged with a colleague, Sanjay Arwade, then of Johns Hopkins University to tutor Kelly for six weeks in advanced numerical modeling of crack propagation to complement her array of quantitative skills.

Dorgan is actively applying for postdoctoral positions. Her first priority would be to test her understanding of mechanical costs by measuring physiological costs of burrowing, which has not been possible in natural sediments (due to the geometrically and biologically complicated sinks for oxygen), but seems feasible in properly simulated muds.

ASLO Distinguished Service Award to Susan Weiler

Cited by John Dower, University of Victoria, Canada, and Robert Campbell, University of Hamburg, Germany

This award recognizes members who have displayed exceptional efforts that support the professional goals and enhance the stature of ASLO. Anyone who has been involved with ASLO over the past 20 years will immediately recognize this as a perfect description of Sue Weiler. Through the establishment of the DIALOG and DISCCRS programs, and her ongoing contributions to the ASLO MAS program, Sue has acted as mentor to literally hundreds of young limnologists and oceanographers, climate researchers, and visible minorities within the aquatic sciences.

Recognizing the need for formal mentoring of the best and brightest students in the aquatic sciences, and the need to break down the barriers that still separate the sub-disciplines of limnology and oceanography, Sue established the first DIALOG (Dissertations Initiative for the Advancement of Limnology and Oceanography) Symposium in 1994. As Sue herself put it, the aim of DIALOG was to “...reduce the historical, institutional and philosophical barriers that limit the exchange of information between limnologists and oceanographers, and to foster interdisciplinary and inter-institutional research.”

In the intervening 12 years DIALOG has been held six more times, and has brought together several hundred budding researchers to learn from each other and to form lifelong peer groups. More recently, Sue founded DISCCRS (DISsertations initiative for the advancement of Climate Change ReSearch) in 2003 to bring together recent PhDs in the subdisciplines that partake in climate research. Here too, Sue’s goal was to build bridges between these young scientists. The DISCCRS symposium has been held twice (DISCCRS III is scheduled for 2007), and has been just as successful as the DIALOG program.

Although an impressive accomplishment, the DIALOG and DISCCRS programs are only one way in which Sue has helped to mentor young researchers. Since 2000, Sue has coordinated a database of more than 1500 Ph.D. dissertation abstracts on ASLO’s web site. She also maintains a monthly aquatic sciences electronic newsletter that is read by thousands of young scientists, and which offers tips on funding and job opportunities, upcoming aquatic science meetings, and the latest news stories on aquatic science from around the world.

The ASLO Distinguished Service Award serves as a fitting acknowledgement of Sue’s leadership, her dedication, and her boundless enthusiasm, all of which have greatly contributed to making ASLO what it is today: the premier international professional association for aquatic scientists.

John Martin Award for a High Impact Paper in The Aquatic Sciences to Vannote et al. 1980

Cited by Elizabeth W. Boyer, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA.

VANNOTE, R.L., G.W. MINSHALL, K.W. CUMMINS, J.R. SEDELL, and C.E. CUSHING, 1980. The river continuum concept. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 37 (1): 130-137.

For their benchmark paper introducing the River Continuum Concept, authors Robin L. Vannote, G. Wayne Minshall, Kenneth W. Cummins, James R. Sedell, and Colbert E. Cushing are the recipients of the second annual John Martin Award. Among those who study inland waters, these authors are legendary figures who have made many contributions to the field over the years, and their River Continuum Concept (or RCC) is a household phrase. The paper is theoretical in nature, presenting

a general framework to describe changes in the structure and function of aquatic ecosystems that occur along the length of a stream or river, from the headwaters to the lower reaches. Emphasizing the relationships among physical, chemical, and biological processes in ecosystems, the authors hypothesized that energy inputs vary in a predictable way along the longitudinal profile of rivers, that the consequent structure of the biological communities is predictable, and that biotic communities adapt to the particular conditions of a stretch of stream. In the decades following its publication, the RCC dominated river studies and has been evaluated, supported, criticized, and modified. Though many specific predictions based on the concept have been met with limited success when tested in specific contexts, most would agree that the RCC is a useful tool providing general principles that are applicable to riverine environments worldwide. Today there is no question that a synthetic, watershed-scale perspective is required in order to interpret processes in aquatic ecosystems that occur along river networks, as Vannote et al. originally highlighted. The RCC still continues to provide a conceptual context and to be a stimulus for data collection and ideas in the watershed sciences. The paper has been cited repeatedly (1811 times to date, per the ISI web of science accessed in December 2006), underscoring the fact that the RCC has become one of the aquatic ecology’s most influential conceptual models. This paper truly embodies the spirit of the John Martin Award, which recognizes an important paper in aquatic sciences in the last 10-30 years that has had high impact on subsequent research in the field.


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