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Limnologist receives preeminent international award

August 10, 2007 By Jill Sakai

University of Wisconsin–Madison limnologist Stephen Carpenter joins the select ranks of the world’s most distinguished lake researchers next week, when he will receive the highest international honor in his field.



Photo: Michael Forster Rothbart

Carpenter will be awarded the Naumann-Thienemann medal on Monday, Aug. 13, at the triennial meeting of the International Society of Limnology in Montreal, Quebec. This medal, named for two early 20th-century European limnologists, is bestowed in recognition of outstanding career contributions to the field of limnology.

Carpenter, the Stephen Alfred Forbes Professor of Zoology and a prominent member of the UW–Madison Center for Limnology, is well known for his seminal work on understanding and modeling lake ecosystems. Much of his research has been based in Wisconsin, where he has extensively studied methods to improve the health and water quality of lakes in the Madison area and in the Northern Highlands Lake District in northern Wisconsin. He has contributed to understanding the impacts of a wide range of factors, including invasive species, pollution, and lakeshore development.

For the past eight years, Carpenter has led a Wisconsin Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program to study ecological changes in the state’s lakes over time. “His leadership has really helped put Wisconsin on the map as an outstanding LTER site,” says Jim Kitchell, director of the Center for Limnology.

Carpenter’s contributions also extend beyond his scientific legacy, Kitchell says. “Steve has expanded the context of limnology beyond basic science to include the social, economic, and political considerations that guide lake management,” Kitchell says. “He has developed mechanisms for interacting with the public to help guide informed decisions about the environment.”

The Naumann-Theinemann medal adds to a long list of lauds Carpenter has accumulated during his career. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received awards from numerous scientific societies, including the Ecological Society of America and the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography.

In testament to UW–Madison’s long-standing position at the forefront of limnology, Carpenter is the fourth Naumann-Thienemann medal recipient from the university, out of only 57 medals given since the award’s inception in 1942. Edward Birge and Chauncey Juday were awarded medals in 1950 and Arthur Hasler won in 1992.