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James E. Cloern Wins Ketchum Award


Media Relations Office


April 16, 2010

(508) 289-3340

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has chosen James E.  Cloern, a senior research scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey for the last 34 years, as the recipient of the 2010 Bostwick H. Ketchum Award.

The 15th winner of the award, Cloern has focused his studies on the comparative ecology and biogeochemistry of estuaries, aimed at understanding how they respond as ecosystems to climatic-hydrologic variability and human disturbance. He is currently leading a study of the San Francisco Bay that includes investigation of nutrient cycling, algal and zooplankton community dynamics, ecosystem metabolism and food web dynamics. He is also examining disturbances by introduced species, Bay-Ocean connectivity, ecosystem restoration and projected responses to climate change.

He will receive the Ketchum Award on April 28 at a ceremony in the Redfield Laboratory Auditorium in Woods Hole Village.

The WHOI award recognizes Cloern’s “excellence in estuarine ecology especially his conceptual models of important estuarine processes, collaborations within the US and abroad, advising students and post-docs, commitment to a long-term monitoring program, and ability to translate his results to policymakers.”

The Ketchum Award, administered by the WHOI Coastal Ocean Institute and the Rinehart Coastal Research Center, was established in 1983 to honor an internationally recognized scientist who demonstrates an innovative approach to coastal research, leadership in the scientific community, and who forges a link between coastal research and societal issues.

The award is named for renowned oceanographer Bostwick H. "Buck" Ketchum, who served WHOI for more than 40 years as a graduate student, scientist, chairman of the Biology Department, member of the Corporation, and as Associate Director of the Institution (1962 to 1977). Like his mentor, the late physiologist and oceanographer Alfred C. Redfield, Ketchum was equally at home in the physical, chemical, and biological realms. His broad view of oceanography and his appreciation for the synergy of marine phenomena are evident in more than 70 papers he authored on subjects ranging from estuarine physics to deep ocean biology.

Cloern has been a Fulbright Research Scholar at the Centre d'Océanologie de Marseille, has mentored 11 postdoctoral scientists and19 graduate students from six countries, taught scientific writing at the Université de Bretagne Occidentale, is Consulting Professor (Civil Engineering) at Stanford University, and Co-Editor of Estuaries and Coasts. He will receive the Ketchum Award on April 28 at a ceremony in the Redfield Laboratory Auditorium in Woods Hole Village.

“Jim is clearly deserving of this award,” says Christopher M. Reddy, director of the Coastal Ocean Institute and associate scientist in Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry at WHOI. “I read all his papers when I was in grad school working on a term paper on the San Francisco Bay in 1994. To me, it’s refreshing to award somebody whose excellence I relied on and used as a grad student 16 years ago. Plus, I get to finally meet him”

Others who supported Cloern’s nomination include:

--Alan Jassby of UC Davis: “Dr. Cloern is one of the most well-respected figures in estuary science today.”

--Tim Hollibaugh of the University of Georgia: Cloern’s “work is easily the equivalent of that done by the fathers of the field like Hutchinson, Redfield, Sverdrup,, Pickard, Riley, Lauff and, yes, Ketchum.”

--Hans Paerl of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: A “boundless energy and giving personality has allowed Jim to be one of the most effective, productive and prolific researchers in coastal phytoplankton ecology and biogeochemistry.”

--Thomas C. Malone of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science: “Cloern has a history of commitment to educating graduate and postdoctoral students nationally and internationally, a commitment that is unusual for a government scientist. I have seen him in action as he articulates the complexities of coastal ecosystems in ways that captivate and inform his audience, be they students, established scientists or non-scientists in public forums.”

Cloern will put those communications skills to use on April 28. After receiving the award from WHOI Director and President Susan K. Avery, he will present a lecture on “Complex Phytoplankton Patterns Where Land Meets Sea.”

About Buck Ketchum

Buck Ketchum's early research provided a basis for the understanding of productivity of the oceans. In later years, he focused on the effects of human activities in the coastal zone. He organized a national conference on Critical Problems of the Coastal Zone. The conference and its proceedings, The water’s edge: critical problems of the Coastal Zone (MIT Press, 1972), are widely perceived as the cornerstone of present national coastal zone management policy. This scholarly review contributed to the development of Coastal Zone Management Act and formed the rationale for WHOI's establishment of the Coastal Research Center.

At the time of his death in 1982, he was one of four co-authors of a six-volume series entitled Wastes in the Oceans (John Wiley & Sons). The first volume was dedicated to Ketchum, "who, until his death, had worked for and believed in the immortality of humanity and science."

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, independent organization in Falmouth, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the oceans and their interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the oceans' role in the changing global environment.


Originally published: April 16, 2010