Alexandra Fries receives 2024 President’s Award for Outstanding Research Support

June 3, 2024
Credit: Jill Jasuta.

Alexandra Fries, a program manager at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) Integration and Application Network, is the recipient of the 2024 President’s Award for Outstanding Research Support, which recognizes the professional achievements by a faculty research assistant (FRA) who has made an outstanding contribution to leadership in research innovation, mentoring, and service.

Fries started as an FRA at UMCES in 2011. During her tenure, she has grown from a junior science communicator to a seasoned program manager with responsibilities spanning from the supervision of staff to the managing of budgets, planning of projects, and implementation of work plans. Fries is an independent and effective manager, working on applied science and synthesis projects, including several high-profile Ecosystem and Socio-Environmental Report Cards. She led the Florida Everglades Report Card and Report to Congress in 2017; the NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Status and Trends Reports for the Pacific Ocean in 2019, and the Rio Grande Socio-Environmental Health Report Card in 2023.

"Currently, Alex is managing one of the largest report card projects we’ve ever had, with over $500K in funding from a private foundation to co-create socio-environmental report cards for five watersheds in Detroit, Michigan," said IAN Director, Heath Kelsey. "Her project work has taken her around the globe and she has been an excellent UMCES ambassador. I am confident that when Alex is the manager of a specific project, I can rely on her to conduct business with professionalism and tenacity."

In addition, Fries has dedicated countless hours of volunteer service to UMCES, serving on important search committees and councils where she has been a direct, engaged and fearless UMCES advocate. She has led more than 20 science communication, synthesis, data visualization, and stakeholder engagement trainings, and is currently teaching the Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences Science Visualization course alongside Katie May Laumann.

"Alex is dedicated to teaching, mentoring and helping to empower other science communicators," said Jerry Frank, manager of the UMCES Nutrient Analytical Services Laboratory. "Browsing the titles of her presentations and workshops, it’s apparent Alex offers a one-stop-shop where scientists can hone the skills necessary to translate and transform data into impactful stories more easily understood by wider audiences. I sincerely appreciate her ability to distill complex concepts, cut through jargon and get to the essence of a concept." Indeed, Fries’ unparalleled work ethic and dedication make her an ideal candidate for this award.


The Integration and Application Network (IAN) is a dedicated group of scientists intent on educating the public and solving environmental problems. Their mission is to accomplish positive environmental change through scientific synthesis, engagement and communication. IAN inspires, manages and produces timely syntheses and assessments on key environmental issues, with a special emphasis on Chesapeake Bay. This lab fosters partnerships with a variety of organizations and agencies, both regionally and globally, and has staff physically located in Annapolis, on the Horn Point Laboratory campus, at the Chesapeake Bay Program office and in the Maryland Department of Natural Resources building.