URI Graduate School of Oceanography scientist receives international award

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KINGSTON, R.I., Feb. 25, 2016—University of Rhode Island oceanographer Susanne Menden-Deuer, an expert in the behavior of plankton, has won an international award for her work.

The associate professor at the Graduate School of Oceanography will receive the Hutner Prize from the International Society of Protistologists during its annual meeting this summer in Moscow.

The organization is the largest international scientific society of Protistology, the study of microscopic one-celled organisms called eukaryotes, or protists. The award is given every year to a mid-career scientist for outstanding contributions to the field.

Menden-Deuer was singled out for her research about protists in marine plankton. The awards committee noted that her “multi-faceted approach, combining lab studies of physiology with field studies of growth and grazing rates along with mathematical modeling, has led to significant advances in the understanding of the complexities and importance of protists in marine plankton.”

Named for Seymour Hutner, the prize was first awarded 40 years ago and is given to individuals who have gone on to distinguished careers in academia and research foundations. Menden-Deuer will accept the award and also give a lecture when she is in Moscow.

Microscopic predators in the world’s oceans fascinate Menden-Deuer because they are important to making Earth habitable. They are essential to marine food webs, the ocean’s role in regulating global climate and the air people breathe. Her research focuses on the behavior of marine predators and their interactions in the ocean. A graduate of the University of Bonn, Germany, Menden-Deuer received her doctorate from the University of Washington.

Menden-Deuer is grateful for the recognition: “It reflects the tremendous work members of the Menden-Deuer lab, technician Amanda Montalbano, the students—undergraduate and graduate—and post-doctoral fellows have been doing.” She also said that her research has benefited from her many collaborations with other scientists in the United States and internationally.

“Receiving an award from a worldwide group of experts such as the International Society of Protistologists signals to those of us who do not work in that specific area how an awardee’s research is viewed by those who truly understand its significance,” says David Smith, associate dean of GSO. “This award is a testament to the impact that Susanne’s research has had on the field early in her career, and I look forward to seeing what she will discover in the future.”

Pictured above: Susanne Menden-Deuer, an associate professor at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. Photo courtesy of Susanne Menden-Deuer.