2004 VIMS Service Awards

The following remarks were read by Dean and Director Dr. John Wells during VIMS' annual Awards Ceremony on April 15, 2005 to honor recipients of the 2004 Service Awards.

Robert M. Freeman Volunteer of the Year Award

This award was named for Robert Mallory Freeman, a former VIMS Council member and supporter who passed away in 2004. Bob was chairman of Signet Bank in Richmond until 1996. He was active with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Virginia Environmental Endowment, among many other community leadership activities. At VIMS, Bob was interested in oyster restoration, advancing research with cutting-edge scientific equipment, and helping to leverage resources like VIMS newest vessel, the Pelican. The Pelican is a former Mike boat now being renovated for research at VIMS with help from the Freeman family and other generous donors.

The winner of this year's Freeman Volunteer of the Year Award is Mr. Cameron Blandford.

During the past two years, Cameron Blandford has far exceeded the expectations that VIMS might hold for any of its volunteers. After VIMS acquired a former Navy landing craft, now named R/V Pelican, it was decided to enlist several of the Institute's financial supporters to assist with its renovation. Mr. Blandford helped by raising donations for the work required to convert the vessel into a research platform. Throughout the course of this project, Cameron shared his knowledge and experience in vessel management, renovation planning, and systems design, which he acquired during his long tenure at Newport News Shipbuilding. He personally guided the equipping of the vessel and its modification by outside contractors. Because of Cameron's help, we have experienced unusually smooth and certain progress toward our goal of having the Pelican operational by May 1, 2005.

In addition to his personal involvement, Cameron has also enlisted the expertise of many of his professional friends and contacts. These individuals have offered proficiency, guidance, and technical assistance with many issues that otherwise would have required VIMS to hire consultants. Throughout this project, Cameron has been like a "touchstone" for VIMS. He is always there to lend a hand, work out special solutions to a delicate issue, or simply to reiterate his genuine interest and support for our mission.

There can be no doubt that Cameron Blandford is an excellent choice for the Robert M. Freeman Volunteer of the Year Award. Please accept this certificate as our appreciation of your dedication, loyalty, and efficiency while volunteering at VIMS. top

Outstanding Classified Employee Awards

These awards are chosen by nominations received by the Awards Committee from all faculty, staff, and students at VIMS. They are awarded in the categories of Facilities/Safety/Trades, Research and Advisory Service, Technical Support, and Administrative Support.


The Awards Committee is pleased to present the Outstanding Classified Employee in Facilities/Safety/Trades Support for 2004 to Mr. Mike Cooke.

Mike joined the VIMS community through the CETA program in 1977, and became a classified employee in the Housekeeping Department in November 1980. Mike continues his great work in that Department today. He is currently in charge of all floors and carpets, a tall order considering the size of the campus and the rigorous usage by the VIMS community. As indicated by the many "Thank Yous" Mike receives during the year it is obvious that he believes in doing the job right, as quickly as possible, and with the goal of satisfying the end user, always with a smile on his face. Mike is a team player and can always be counted on to provide support wherever it is needed. Thanks to his efforts, VIMS can rest assured that our many buildings will always sparkle.

Away from VIMS, Mike is a devoted family man who enjoys spending time with his wife Eva, his daughter Candace, and his son Mike, Jr. He is equally devoted to his siblings, their families, and his church.

Mike is a well-deserving recipient of the Outstanding Classified Employee Award for Facilities/Safety/Trades, and VIMS is proud to have this opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding manner in which Mike has always, and continues to, serve the Institute. top

Research/Advisory Service

The recipient of the 2004 Outstanding Classified Employee in Research/Advisory Service is Ms. Martha Rhodes.

Martha plays a pivotal role in VIMS' striped bass-mycobacteria program, developing and applying new techniques for isolating and identifying mycobacteria in this important recreational fish. She has published three papers on the disease in important journals and named two new species of mycobacteria. She has been instrumental in establishing collaborative relationships with researchers at both national and international levels.

Martha has also made significant contributions to the careers and research of many faculty and students. Recent graduate students who have benefited from her enthusiastic and careful help include Dave Gauthier, Erin Burge, Courtney Harris, and Danielle Johnston.

Martha has a realistic but considered approach to microbiological science that provides a wonderful grounding for faculty who occasionally need to be brought back to earth. And she never shies away from an intellectual or physical challenge. For example, she recently learned PCR and other new techniques in molecular biology to detect indicators and pathogens in recreational waters.

Martha consistently provides the benefit of her expertise to meet the advisory needs of the Commonwealth, and never has to be asked twice—always provides a well-considered response or effort in a timely and efficient manner. She is a tireless worker in the field under what are sometimes physically trying circumstances. As a supervisor she is always considerate of her co-workers' workloads and needs.

Although this award focuses on Martha's research and advisory activities, it would be remiss to not mention two widely noted traits that define Martha as a person: her pleasant personality and true desire to help.

Martha is valuable resource to VIMS in her professional life as a researcher and as co-worker. She is most deserving of this award. top

Technical Support

The winner of the 2004 Outstanding Classified Employee for Technical Support is Ms. Ellen Harvey.

Ellen joined VIMS in 1978 as a Laboratory Mechanic, in what was then known as the Division of Ecology and Pollution. Throughout her career at the Institute Ellen has been indispensable. Her vast knowledge of the complex and temperamental analytical instruments used to detect and identify environmental contaminants has literally "saved the day" on innumerable occasions.

Ellen's "hands-on" abilities and dedication are unsurpassed. Despite a heavy workload, Ellen never hesitates to step in and rescue both malfunctioning instruments and "over-their-head" investigators, be they students, staff, or faculty. She has also saved the Institute vast sums of money on instrument service contracts. In fact, when service engineers arrive to provide warranty work or install a machine, they often leave shaking their heads, having learned from Ellen about the inner workings of their own instruments.

In 1996, a national search for a Senior Marine Scientist to run VIMS' mass spectrometer facility generated numerous applications, most from individuals with doctorates in chemistry. But among the resumes, Ellen's clearly stood out. Although she does not hold an advanced degree, Ellen's depth of knowledge and experience were clearly superior. The correct choice was obvious and Ellen was selected unanimously. Fortunately, Ellen still finds time to debug that troublesome chromatograph or vacuum pump—even if she needs to come in on a weekend or holiday to do it.

Ellen has contributed to important chemistry projects at VIMS for 27 years, but has always selflessly stepped aside when the accolades come. Nonetheless, investigators recognize her critical role and her name figures in many of the reports, scientific presentations, and manuscripts of the Institute.

Ellen's exceptional and selfless contributions in support of VIMS' research, advisory and educational missions are outstanding. We are proud to honor Ellen Harvey as the Institute's most Outstanding Classified Staff in Technical Support for 2004. top

Administrative Support

The winner of the 2004 Outstanding Classified Employee for Administrative Support is Ms. Shirley Stirling.

Three main themes run through Shirley's 30 years of service to VIMS: extraordinary and selfless support of others, a pleasant "can-do" attitude regardless of the challenge, and a commitment to contribute to all aspects of the VIMS community.

For three decades, Shirley has arrived at 6:30 AM and worked past 5:00 PM, motivated solely by her desire to help others do their jobs. Although Shirley officially supports the Environmental and Aquatic Animal Health Department, she also helps in the mailroom and switchboard/receptionist area. She organizes the activities and correspondence for faculty members who edit three major scientific journals, and still helps retired Dean and Director Bill Hargis prepare manuscripts for publication.

From being the lead eVA person in Environmental and Aquatic Animal Health, to helping with the VIMS mailroom and front desk, to organizing the flow of manuscripts for three scientific journals, Shirley contributes gracefully and quietly to everyone's efficiency and achievements.

The words of a colleague perhaps best describe Shirley's exceptional standing at VIMS: This faculty member wrote, "In all my experiences at universities and colleges, Shirley stands out as the most effective, willing, and pleasant partner with whom I have worked."

Shirley has displayed a life-long desire to selflessly facilitate excellence in others and has achieved excellence in all of her own endeavors. This exemplifies the best of VIMS, and makes Shirley well deserving of this award. top

Professional Faculty for Administrative Support

This year, the Awards Committee received a nomination to honor a member of the Professional Faculty. Because this nomination did not fit into any of the existing categories, the committee decided to add a one-time award for this year.

It is thus with honor and pleasure that VIMS recognizes Ms. Jane Lopez as the Outstanding Professional Faculty of 2004. This is truly an honor that she deserves.

Throughout Jane's career at VIMS, she has had a single mission— to provide the highest quality and level of service in Sponsored Research. To do this, however, has required a myriad of duties and skills. Jane has had to supervise grants and contracts; audit faculty performance relative to grant completion (including tracking those pesky monthly and quarterly performance reports); deal with the diverse interests of contracting offices, administrators, faculty, staff, and students; and most importantly, ensure that funds are received by the College.

Jane has on numerous occasions resolved extremely complicated and delicate issues involving funding and grant/contract performance. This requires the skills and knowledge of a diplomat, labor leader, department chair, college administrator, faculty member, budget analyst, and caring individual. Ms. Lopez has done all of this, and more. Her efforts have not only ensured the timely completion of grants and contracts and the distribution of funds, but also the continued promotion of "good will" with contracting agencies.

Jane has provided excellence in service by being unselfish of her skills and time. Through her efforts, the Office of Sponsored Research has established and maintains an open-door policy that is appreciated by everyone at the Institute.

VIMS is truly lucky to have the services of such a highly dedicated and competent employee.

Jane, the entire VIMS community thanks you for your service. top

The Dean's Prize for the Advancement of Women in Marine Science

The Dean's Prize for the Advancement of Women in Marine Science is awarded for outstanding contributions toward the promotion of women in science. The award for 2004 goes to Dr. Linda Schaffner.

Dr. Schaffner has long been a strong advocate for women faculty, students, and staff in the School of Marine Science and at VIMS. She is also an accomplished educator having received the SMS Outstanding Teacher Award in 1995, The Thomas Jefferson Outstanding Teaching Award from the College of William and Mary in 2001, and the SCHEV Outstanding Teaching Award from the State of Virginia in 2002. Linda has further distinguished herself as President of the Estuarine Research Federation. Her teaching, mentorship, and leadership have made her a highly effective educator and an important role model for our faculty and students.

In addition to her educational efforts on the part of VIMS graduate students, Linda directs the Research Experience for Undergraduates Program, which has attracted more than 100 undergraduate students from the U.S. to participate in summer internships at VIMS. Seventy-three percent of these REU students have been women, and approximately 70% have gone on to careers in marine or related fields. Moreover, Linda co-directs the NSF-sponsored Hall-Bonner program, which is currently involved in recruiting and producing excellent minority PhD students in marine science.

Dr. Schaffner's contributions to the Advancement of Women in Marine Science are perhaps best summarized by a colleague who wrote: "By her involvement in the internship program, her commitment to the education of young people, and her role in both the scientific and academic communities, Linda projects to faculty and non-faculty a sense of dedication to her career and an eagerness to foster the involvement of new recruits to the field."

In summary, Linda embodies all the strengths of an outstanding teacher, an effective mentor, and a leading scholar. Because of her steadfast support of all women at SMS/VIMS she is highly deserving of the Dean's Prize for the Advancement of Women in Marine Science. top

Outstanding Faculty Advisory Service Award

This is an alternating award given every three years to a faculty member who has excelled in teaching, research, or advisory services. This year's winner of the Outstanding Advisory Service Award is Dr. Carl Hershner.

VIMS' upstanding advisory reputation is based on the expectation of our clients and supporters that VIMS has a comprehensive understanding of issues, and approaches them in the role of an unbiased "honest broker." Carl Hershner is one the VIMS pioneers in developing proper implementation of advisory activities that has served this Institute, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Commonwealth of Virginia so well for so long.

VIMS' advisory mission is generally accomplished on a case-by-case basis; initiated from requests by lawmakers, agency personnel, or the private sector. These interactions are clearly a valuable part of VIMS' advisory strategy. But Carl has successfully extended this reaction-based model into one of proactive planning for multiple issues at various decision-making levels, resulting in a leadership role in resource management that extends beyond the boundaries of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay.

Carl began his VIMS career as a graduate student, but quickly worked his way through the Wetlands Program and ultimately created the Center for Coastal Resources Management. As the Director of CCRM, Carl oversees a multi-million dollar operation composed of the Wetlands Program, the Comprehensive Coastal Inventory, and the Coastal Watersheds Program. Carl has also served as the major advisor for 43 VIMS students, on 34 VIMS and W&M governance committees and councils, and has numerous publications and presentations on basic and applied research, resource management, and environmental policy.

Carl has broadly influenced Virginia and Chesapeake Bay resource management through his ongoing commitment to key advisory committees. Within the Chesapeake Bay Program Carl has served as the Chair of the Wetlands Workgroup and the Tidal Habitat Workgroup, and is the current Chair of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee. His service on Virginia-specific advisory bodies includes the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Summit, the Governor's Wetlands Initiative Task Force, and the Chesapeake Bay Inter-Agency Staff Group. He also has served on two committees of the National Academies' National Research Council. These are but a few of Carl's current and historical committee activities.

Carl was a pioneer in Virginia in developing and implementing GIS as a research and advisory tool. As such, his Comprehensive Coastal Inventory Program is a self-sustaining unit that provides products that are in widespread use for planning, economic development, and environmental policy.

Virginia has one of the Nation's most comprehensive and effective state-level non-tidal wetlands regulatory programs. Carl was instrumental in developing this legislation and assuring its passage in the Virginia General Assembly.

As a result of his long-term efforts, Carl is on a first-name basis with the Governor's cabinet members and state and federal legislators. We are sure that more accomplishments will follow, and that these will benefit our natural coastal resources, both locally and nationally.

Thank you, Carl—you are an excellent role model for those that wish to pursue the generally unrewarding and oftentimes frustrating arena of science/policy interactions. You continue to be an excellent ambassador for VIMS and we all are grateful for your contributions. top

Recognition of Special Accomplishments

The following section acknowledges some of the many accolades bestowed on VIMS faculty, students, and staff in 2004.

  • Graduate students Paul Bradley, Kristin France, and Heidi Geisz received the prestigious STAR fellowship from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Debbie Bronk, Liz Canuel, and Deb Steinberg were chosen to provide biographies for the Oceanography Society’s recent special issue on Women in Oceanography.

  • Vicki Clark, Lee Larkin, Susanna Musick, and Lisa Lawrence won the 2004 President's Award from the National Marine Educators Association "for outstanding contributions to NMEA and marine education," for the Bridge Ocean Sciences Education website.

  • Carl Friedrichs was given the Alumni Fellowship Award by the William & Mary Alumni Association. This award was established in 1968 to recognize younger members of the faculty who are particularly outstanding as teachers.

  • Joel Hoffman and Sarah Muffelman received honors at the Spring Meeting of the American Fisheries Society's Southern Division. Joel earned 2nd place for his poster on American shad and an honorable mention for his platform presentation. Sarah received an Honorable mention for her poster on prey selectivity in striped bass.

  • Steve Kaattari received a special achievement award from the Fish Health Section of the American Fisheries Society for years of service as the editor of the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health.

  • Kate Mansfield received the National SEASPACE graduate fellowship and won 2nd place for her poster at the 25th Annual International Sea Turtle Symposium.

  • Marcel Montane is retiring with 20 years in the Naval Reserve at the rank of Chief Petty Officer.

  • Walter Priest and William Reay were part of a group that received the prestigious Coastal America Spirit Award for their efforts to help restore the Elizabeth River.

  • Kim Reece was appointed the Class of 1964 Distinguished Associate Professor of Marine Science.

  • Jeff Shields became the President-elect of the Crustacean Society for 2004.

  • Debbie Steinberg became associate editor of the journal Deep-Sea Research and was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Bermuda Biological Station. top