University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

President's Award

for Excellence in Application of Science

The President's Award for Excellence in Application of Science was established to honor University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science faculty members whose exemplary applications of science have had a positive impact on environmental protection and management.

Ming Li
Horn Point Laboratory

Ming Li, an expert in the regional impacts of climate change, sea level rise, storm surge, and estuarine and coastal dynamics, is recognized for his outstanding contributions and global leadership in applying the best available science to guide managers and policy-makers in making decisions for communities. He is one of the most influential thought leaders of his generation in the field of environmental fluid mechanics, spanning coastal resilience and the vulnerability of our coastal ecosystems to changing climate. He has dedicated his recent research towards predicting the impacts of climate change on coastal inundation in Maryland and conducting fundamental research on coastal sea level dynamics, as well as applied research to inform decision- making on coastline management. He has pushed the boundary of interdisciplinary research, enabling an integrated approach to investigating the compound effects of multiple stressors in coastal systems, including predicting how climate change affects hypoxia, acidification, and harmful algal blooms. 

Xin Zhang
Appalachian Laboratory

Zhang, an expert in sustainable agriculture, collaborates closely with colleagues in both the social and natural sciences, policymakers and decision-makers in government agencies and nongovernmental organizations to improve understanding of the food-energy-environment nexus to balance the socioeconomic needs of producers and the environmental impacts of unintended consequences such as excessive nitrogen use. In a global effort to promote accountability for nations’ commitments towards sustainable agriculture, she led the development of the Sustainable Agriculture Matrix (SAM), a quantitative assessment for agriculture sustainability for countries around the world based not only on environmental impacts, but economic and social impacts, as well. SAM provides independent and transparent measurements of agricultural sustainability at a national level that can help governments and organizations to evaluate progress, encourage accountability, identify priorities for improvement, and inform national policies and actions towards sustainable agriculture around the globe. 

Rosemary Jagus
Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology

Rosemary Jagus, a professor in molecular genetics at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET), was recognized for her contributions to increasing the diversity of scientists working in the marine sciences over the past two decades. As Project Director for NOAA’s Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center (LMRCSC) at IMET, director of the summer internship program, and mentor to students in her lab, she has used her eminence in the science field where she studies translational control of gene expression to inspire and rigorously train young scientists from under-served communities to pursue careers in science and worked towards improving the lack of diversity in marine sciences. Since 2001, Jagus has served as IMET Project Director of the LMRCSC, a training partnership with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and other minority serving institutions to increase the pool of young people from underrepresented communities in the marine sciences. Over the last 20 years, this program has graduated eight Ph.D. and four master’s students from historically underrepresented backgrounds. More than 220 students from across the country have participated in IMET’s summer internship program.

Michael Wilberg
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

Michael Wilberg was recognized for his ongoing and impactful efforts on the science and outstanding communication of oyster management with stakeholders, partners, and policymakers. A professor in fisheries science, he works on understanding population dynamics and management of a range of fish and shellfish species, including oysters and blue crabs. Wilberg was invited to lead the first stock assessment done for the State of Maryland 135 years. The assessment was conducted collaboratively with scientists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and resulted in estimates of the abundance and levels of sustainable exploitation to help guide policy on oyster management. He is recognized as an international expert on stock assessment and has served as technical adviser to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the International Whaling Commission, and South Africa in developing their fisheries management plans.

Matthew Fitzpatrick
Appalachian Laboratory

Matthew Fitzpatrick was recognized for combining climate mapping with the interactive web application to provide a powerful tool to communicate how climate change may impact the lives of a large portion of the population of the United States and Canada. The Future Urban Climates web application captured the imagination of the public, and the work attracted interview requests from around the globe, reaching more than half a billion people on every continent. A spatial ecologist, Fitzpatrick studies global change and biodiversity, trying to understand what determines where species occur and how climate change may alter where species could live in the future. From ancient fossil pollen to baby spruce trees, he uses computer modeling to understand what determines where species occur and how climate change may alter where species could live in the future.

Cathlyn (Cat) Stylinski
Appalachian Laboratory

Dr. Cathlyn (Cat) Stylinski was recognized for her research and outreach to deepen public understanding of science, to foster connections between scientists and non-scientists, and to promote environmental sustainability. With collaborators across the country, she is building capacity in the science and environmental education fields through development of innovative assessment tools to measure science learning, effective practices to facilitate professional learning communities among public and K-12 educators, and strategies to engage broader audiences in science education. A recognized leader in these fields, she is regularly tapped to contribute on national review panels, advisory committees, boards, and working groups, including the North American Association for Environmental Education Research Symposium, the fledgling Citizen Science Association, the National Academy of Science panel on citizen science, and consulting on public engagement for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Jaqueline Grebmeier
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

Dr. Jaqueline Grebmeier has seen the impact of climate change on the Arctic first-hand. A research professor and biological oceanographer, she has been working for more than 30 years to understand how Arctic marine ecosystems respond to environmental changes, particularly the importance of biological systems living on the bottom of Arctic seas. Called a “first-rate science diplomat,” she has played a leadership role in coordinating and promoting national and international Arctic research and participated in more than 45 oceanographic expeditions on both U.S. and foreign vessels, many as Chief Scientist. She recently completed service as the U.S. delegate to and a vice-president of the International Arctic Science Committee and served as a member of the U.S. Polar Research Board of the National Academies. In 2000, President Clinton appointed a commissioner to the U.S. Arctic Research Commission in recognition of her exceptional contributions to Arctic marine research, particularly in the areas of benthic ecology and marine ecosystem dynamics.

Dr. Mario Tamburri
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

An expert in coastal observing systems, Dr. Mario Tamburri was recognized for his leadership in applying innovative and well-tested environmental sensor technologies and in steadfastly working to reduce the risk of invasive species through maritime transportation. He has been a dedicated leader in working toward effectively addressing invasive species issues as the head of the Maritime Environmental Resource Center (MERC). The center has also recently established efforts to address other related Green Ship issues and innovations, including vessel biofouling, alternative fuels and methods to reduce air emissions.He is also Executive Director of the Alliance for Coastal Technologies (ACT), a partnership dedicated to developing effective and reliable sensors and platforms for monitoring water quality. He has been a key member of the Challenging Nutrients Coalition, a national inter-agency initiative working to improve scientist’s ability to measure and understand nutrient pollution.

Dr. Jeff Cornwell
Horn Point Laboratory

An expert in sediments, water quality, and wetlands, Dr. Jeff Cornwell was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the understanding of nutrient cycling in the Chesapeake Bay, including his leadership inMaryland Port Authority on the impacts of dredging, the role of oysters in removing nutrients from the water column, and the impact of sedimentation at Conowingo Dam. In the last decade, his lab has worked on problems related to the placement of dredged materials, assessing the nutrient effects of dredging and the use of dredged materials in restoration of Poplar Island in the Chesapeake Bay. He has helped move forward efforts to restore the Bay’s oyster population through insights on the role of oysters in removing nutrients from the water column and how aquaculture impacts the chemistry of sediments and the impact of nutrient and phosphorus pollution on excess algae growth. Most recently he has assumed a lead role in assisting the State in understanding the effects of the Conowingo Dam on the balance of nutrients in the upper Chesapeake Bay.

Dr. Keith Eshleman
Appalachian Laboratory

An expert in the field of watershed hydrology, Dr. Keith Eshleman was recognized for his leadership in preparing a landmark report on best management practices for unconventional natural gas extraction, also known as fracking, as part of the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative established by Governor Martin O'Malley. The recommendations will assist State and local policymakers and regulators in determining if and how development of the Marcellus Shale formation in western Maryland can occur while minimizing adverse impacts to the environment, natural resources, and public safety.

Dr. Allen Place
Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology

Dr. Allen Place takes diverse approaches with his biological research to address real problems, such as harmful algal blooms, and creatively develops and uses cutting-edge methods to counteract their effect. He takes his research full circle by working with public agencies and businesses in the application of his solutions. Place's work has focused on biology at a microscopic level, including investigating the toxic algae Karlodinium, which caused major fish kills in the late 1990s. By determining the cause of some of these fish kills, he was able to provide sound scientific information to Maryland state agencies and head off unfounded public concerns regarding human or ecological health. More recently, he led a group looking for novel and effective control mechanisms for cyanobacterial blooms that plague freshwater reaches of the Chesapeake Bay and formulated sustainable foods used to cultivate fish in aquaculture.

Dr. Lawrence Sanford
Horn Point Laboratory

Dr. Lawrence Sanford has made significant contributions to the understanding of sediment transport processes in the Chesapeake, transmitting that information to managers in an understandable way and working on innovative ways to incorporate the information into the Chesapeake Bay Water Quality and Sediment Transport Model. These efforts have led to marked improvements in the understanding of the role of sediment in Bay water quality issues. He has also worked with the Maryland Geological Survey in addressing sediment resuspension and transport at open water dredged sediment placement sites in northern Chesapeake Bay. The results of his efforts provided valuable insight into the effects of open water placement and were instrumental in providing a clearer understanding of the potential impacts associated with dredged sediment placement for the state’s resource management and permitting agencies.

Dr. Margaret Palmer
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

A restoration ecologist renowned for cutting-edge aquatic systems research, Dr. Margaret Palmer spearheaded the development of the first comprehensive database on river and stream restoration in the U.S. She has also been a national pioneer in leading research demonstrating that mountaintop removal mining and the associated valley fills destroys mountains and streams, as well as poisons the water, the wildlife, and people who depend on it in a way that cannot be reversed. According to Senator Ben Cardin, “When we in government end mountaintop removal mining for good in this country, it will be in no small measure a result of her work.”

Dr. Edward Gates
Appalachian Laboratory

Dr. Edward Gates’ career has been dedicated to making a difference in wildlife conservation and supporting the work of wildlife managers, and he is well known for his research on wildlife relationships with forest fragmentation and habitat alteration. His work on avian productivity in relation to edge effects and boundary dynamics was among the pioneering investigations on this topic, and his work on power line corridors and wildlife relationships is widely cited and used by managers. He has also explored the wildlife risk and fatality assessments at wind energy sites in western Maryland. A recognized authority in bat conservation, he has also conducted a number of studies on rare, threatened and endangered bats at various locations in the Mid-Atlantic region, from assessing the impacts of cell towers to evaluating the use of abandoned mines.

Dr. Victoria Coles
Horn Point Laboratory

Dr. Victoria Coles helped us understand the impacts of climate change on the Chesapeake Bay and the highly vulnerable coastal zone through the development of a comprehensive assessment of climate impacts on Maryland. Her analysis provided an important basis for the efforts of Maryland Commission on Climate Change as they develop policies that will help Maryland adapt to changes and minimize vulnerability. She took the lead in assembling historical climate data and provided projections of future climatic conditions in Maryland, serving as the essential foundation for a comprehensive assessment of climate impacts to support actions on future climate conditions for our state.

Dr. Joel Baker
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

Dr. Joel Baker has made significant scientific contributions that have informed policy decisions on issues relating to protection of human health (fish consumption advisories), water quality protections and restoration (several TMDLS for Baltimore Harbor and elsewhere), assessment of the scope and magnitude of PCB contamination, and atmospheric deposition of numerous contaminants. His contributions have also led to policies and management that have improved protection of human and other living resources and the appropriate handling of dredged material, including its beneficial and innovative reuse. He has made extensive contributions to understanding the nature, fate, and transformations of organic contaminants in dredged material and in the Chesapeake Bay.

Dr. Thomas Fisher
Horn Point Laboratory

Dr. Thomas Fisher’s contributions to science have been enormously important to our efforts to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. He worked with state agencies and the Chesapeake Bay Program to design and implement the Bay-wide monitoring programs and computer modeling efforts that began in 1984. He has been a leader in conducting research on critical topics related to the eutrophication problem – atmospheric deposition, terrestrial nutrient processing, aquatic nutrient cycling and primary productivities.  He has also contributed his scientific expertise to develop nutrient criteria for streams, lakes and estuaries and modeling systems to support Total Maximum Daily Load analyses that guide state regulatory programs and enforce pollutant loading limits.

Dr. Jack Greer
Maryland Sea Grant

Communicator “extraordinaire,” Dr. Jack Greer has made stellar contributions to the Chesapeake Bay restoration and is well known and respected for his skills in leading discussions. He has the ability to assess a situation quickly and recommend a course of action. Importantly, he can find the common ground when most have not yet found the story line.

Dr. Edward Houde
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

Dr. Edward Houde’s willingness to bring fisheries science into the management arena has helped improve the collaboration of multiple organizations so that science is used more thoughtfully by management agencies. An expert in the early life of fish, he has been a pioneer in research focusing on forage fish that set the stage for recent developments in ecosystem-based management, an area in which he has been influential. He has been instrumental in working with the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, guiding the development of the Fishery Ecosystem Planning for Chesapeake Bay, and played a critical role in the birth of GLOBEC, one of the most successful biological oceanographic programs ever.

Dr. Raymond Morgan
Appalachian Laboratory

Dr. Raymond Morgan has shared his commitment to excellence, his knowledge of the natural environment and his dedication to evaluate and restore damaged ecosystems with state agencies. The results from these projects have been used to calculate the Total Maximum Daily Loads for Maryland’s impaired water bodies, informed the state’s water quality standards, and seek solutions to acid mine drainage in the coalfields of western Maryland. The successful partnership between Dr. Morgan and the Bureau of Mines is seen today in the fishing and recreational opportunities and the restored beauty that now abounds in the North Branch of the Potomac River, Cherry Creek and George’s Creek watersheds.

Dr. Donald Meritt
Horn Point Laboratory

From his ability to distill practicality from science to his unique talent for direct communication, Dr. Donald “Mutt” Meritt” is the epitome of the applied scientist. He has always been willing to help tackle practical problems in oyster culture that land on his doorstep; he has shared findings and offered counsel to anyone interested in trying novel in-water approaches; he has served as an essential nexus between watermen and the research community; and he has encouraged involving citizens and students in oyster restoration, an invaluable contribution to the future of the bay.

Dr. Thomas Miller
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

Dr. Thomas Miller has been integral to the comeback of the Maryland blue crab as a well-respected member of the Bi-State Blue Crab Advisory Committee, which recognized the critical importance of coordinating the management of the Chesapeake’s blue crab across state lines and in developing a definitive scientific basis for its management. He led the effort to identify the states of the stock and to carry forward recommendations on an appropriate harvest threshold, ensuring that the Bay Agreement’s commitment to sustain the blue crab and its fisheries was built on sound science and creditable targets.

Dr. Walter Boynton
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

Dr. Boynton is universally respected for his tireless willingness to help find answers and for his rare ability to communicate the essence of what science has to contribute to a practical problem. He has conducted a wide range of research on the Chesapeake Bay and on Maryland’s coastal bays. He is particularly well known for his research on nutrient cycling, including the role of bottom sediments in retaining or releasing nutrients. He has been an active contributor to the Chesapeake Bay Monitoring Program and applied studies related to such issues as water quality in Solomons Harbor and dredged sediments impacts. He also led the development of the characterization report for the Maryland Coastal Bays National Estuary Program.