WHOI Waypoints: Laurels for WHOI Scientists


Susumu Honjo

On May 12, Senior Scientist Susumu Honjo (Geology & Geophysics) accepted one of Japan's highest honors from Emperor Akihito in ceremonies at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The Imperial Order of the Rising Sun was bestowed upon Honjo in recognition of his research on the transfer of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the ocean's interior, and for his efforts to strengthen Japan's role in the international ocean science community. He is the first oceanographer to be presented with this honor.

“Dr. Honjo has been closely associated with Japanese ocean science as a reliable adviser, an enthusiastic participant, and a strong leader," the award nomination said. "His activity clearly has strengthened Japan's presence internationally in the field of ocean science. He has been not only a highly significant global leader on a new and critical field of ocean science, but has made clear and strong contributions to Japanese oceanography."

In April 2000, the Japan Marine Science and Technology Center (JAMSTEC) invited Honjo to become its part-time executive director, the first foreign executive of a major government organization in that country. Honjo has since established a new ocean research institution, the Mutsu Institute for Oceanography.

Stan Hart

In April, Senior Scientist Stan Hart (Geology and Geophysics) was designated an honorary fellow of the European Union of Geosciences (EUG). The EUG chooses up to six honorary fellows every two years in recognition of scientific achievements in earth and planetary sciences.

The EUG citation praised Hart “for his landmark contributions to isotope geochemistry, in particular to the study of the Earth's mantle and his development of the concept of end member type components that could be defined from the isotope geochemistry of ocean island basalts; and for pioneering of many applications of ion probe techniques to trace element geochemistry.”

Emily Van Ark and Jian Lin

An MIT/WHOI Joint Program student in marine geophysics, Emily Van Ark, was recently honored with an Outstanding Student Paper Award by the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Van Ark and her advisor, Associate Scientist Jian Lin (Geology and Geophysics), were recognized for an outstanding presentation at the 2002 Fall Meeting of her work on hotspot flux changes of the Emperor Seamount-Hawaii volcano chain.

Chris Reddy and Steve Jayne

WHOI researchers collected two of the twenty-six Young Investigator awards granted in 2003 by US Office of Naval Research. The objective of the Young Investigator Program is “to attract to naval research outstanding new faculty members at institutions of higher education, to support their research, and to encourage their teaching and research careers.” ONR received more than 200 proposals from around the country for the 2003 YIP awards.

One of the awardees is Assistant Scientist Chris Reddy (Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry). Reddy proposed use of a novel chemical technique known as two-dimensional gas chromatography to investigate how petroleum hydrocarbons buried in sediments (such as oil from spills) are altered and degraded by microbes in laboratory and field samples. The other WHOI awardee is Assistant Scientist Steve Jayne (Physical Oceanography), who is studying ways to characterize ocean circulation in an effort to improve operational ocean forecasts and models.

Simon Thorrold

Associate Scientist Simon Thorrold (Biology) was selected by the National Science Foundation as a CAREER Young Investigator for 2002. One of the most prestigious NSF faculty awards, the CAREER program “recognizes and supports the early career-development activities of teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.” Awardees are selected on the basis of career-development plans that “effectively integrate research and education” and “build a firm foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions to research and education.”

Thorrold will receive $686,000 over five years to lead a program of interdisciplinary research and educational activities related to the ecological links between estuaries and the coastal ocean. Specifically, Thorrold plans to expand the development and application of a marking approach that uses variations in the geochemistry of the ear bones of fish (otoliths) as a natural signature for where the fish were hatched and raised. The educational component of the research will include development of courses in fisheries ecology and oceanography, the development and implementation of teacher training workshops for high school teachers, and the mentoring of undergraduates on summer student fellowships.

Mercedes Pascual

Mercedes Pascual, a 1995 graduate of the MIT/WHOI Joint Program, was named one of “The Most Important Women in Science” in the November 2002 issue of Discover magazine. Pascual worked with Senior Scientist Hal Caswell during her time at WHOI and is now an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the Center for the Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan. She was cited for her work on complex ecological systems, especially for finding evidence that El Niño influences cholera outbreaks. It is the first quantitative evidence for an effect of global climate change on an infectious disease.