University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

President's Award for Outstanding Research Support

The President's Award for Outstanding Research Support recognizes professional achievements by faculty research assistants (FRAs), who conduct much of the day-to-day science that goes on in UMCES’ labs and are often our primary people doing field sampling, conducting lab analyses, and managing labs. The award is presented to one individual annually who has made an outstanding contribution to leadership in research innovation, mentoring, and service.

Jerry Frank
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

Senior Faculty Research Assistant Jerry Frank rose above the norms of research responsibilities to include unique leadership, mentorship, and service roles during his more than 30-year career at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. He played an essential role in building and leading the Nutrient Analytical Services Laboratory, now a nationally certified research laboratory sought out by federal, state and local organizations to conduct water quality analyses.  Frank demonstrated a long-term commitment to excellence during his career, being highly skilled, entrepreneurial and committed to excellence in the laboratory and beyond. His outstanding contributions epitomize the cadre of professional researchers at UMCES.

Casey Hodgkins
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

Casey Hodgkins has been an integral part of a variety of projects and technical support roles during her 13 years at UMCES’ Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. As the manager of Dr. Jeremy Testa’s lab, she has mastered a diverse array of field approaches, laboratory analyses, and quantitative data analysis techniques, and she has never failed to deliver high-quality work in all of these venues. She possesses an attention to detail and organizational skills that not only help research groups operate effectively, but also sets a tone and example for other technicians and students. She goes out of her way to help faculty, staff, and students. Hodgkins’ contributions to the research endeavors have been extensive. Since 2014, she has participated in 34 cruises aboard the R/V Rachel Carson, serving both as assistant to non-UMCES groups (e.g., the Nature Conservancy, Montgomery County Community College) and as a senior scientist in support of research efforts aimed at understanding ocean acidification, sediment processes in response to nutrient loading changes, and other dynamic processes in the Patuxent River ecosystem.

Anne Gustafson
Horn Point Laboratory

Anne Gustafson began as a faculty research assistant in Professor Tom Fisher’s lab in 1991, her job duties ranging from meeting ships to picking up water samples from Chesapeake and Delaware Bays to sampling streams and groundwater wells. She has become the general manager for lab projects, the corporate memory of the Fisher lab, and a mentor to other lab members, supervising and training other faculty research assistants. Gustafson began by coordinating the collection, lab processing, and data analyses of water samples associated with projects funded by organizations such as the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and non-profit organizations. Her job duties ranged from meeting ships to pick up water samples and sampling streams and groundwater wells and working with farmers in the experimental watersheds to planning and executing lab or field work with students and other FRAs. She became the general manager for all of the projects in the Fisher lab, supervising other employees and students, analyzing and storing data, and preparing reports, proposals, and budgets.

Janet Barnes
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

Janet Barnes has been a mentor and a positive role model for UMCES’ faculty research assistants, exhibiting long-term commitment to excellence, a genuine scientific curiosity, analytical thinking, and always going above and beyond with support of research and the UMCES community. She started at Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in summer of 1978 and was the first female mate on research vessel at UMCES. She helped start the Solomons Harbor Monitoring Project, worked with the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic program coordinating logistics and science support, and led the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation as Chief Operating Officer.