VIMS Associate Professor Mary C. Fabrizio was recognized with the 2014 Oscar E. Sette Award during the 144th Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society in Québec City, Canada on August 17th.
The award—now in its 23rd year—is presented to an individual who has demonstrated sustained excellence in marine fishery biology through research, teaching, administration, or a combination of the three.
“I’m honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” says Fabrizio. “The Oscar E. Sette Award has been conferred to many outstanding marine fisheries scientists, and it means the world to me to have even been nominated.”
Fabrizio was nominated by Dr. Sarah Glaser, a research scientist at the University of Denver and former visiting assistant professor at VIMS, who says Fabrizio made an indelible impression on her as a fisheries scientist. “Mary’s incredibly dedicated to outstanding, quantitative science,” she says. “She puts her students ahead of herself and has guided them to success in their own research. She also contributes an outstanding amount to the field through service and administration.”
Fabrizio’s course offerings at VIMS include a graduate core course titled Marine Fisheries Science and several courses on data analysis and general linear models. “In my experience, VIMS has some of the most rigorous statistical preparation for its graduate students of any fisheries program in the United States,” says Glaser. “Mary’s course work plays an integral role in that preparation.”
During her career at VIMS and other institutions, Fabrizio has been the advisor to five Masters students, four Ph.D. students, and two post-doctoral fellows. She has also been a member of numerous graduate committees, including other US and international academic institutions.
Fabrizio’s former students speak highly of her mentorship. Branson Williams, one of her former Master’s students, says Fabrizio’s mentorship has served him well in his young career. “Mary’s mentorship was a blend of nurturing, gentle nudges, and the occasional bout of tough love, but it was exactly what I needed,” he says. “I consider myself truly lucky to have worked with her.”
Dr. John Graves, Chair of the Department of Fisheries Science at VIMS, says Fabrizio carries one of the highest—if not the highest—committee loads in the department. “Mary clearly has considerable input as a committee member, especially in the area of data analysis. She’s been featured as an author on several student publications—including some for which she was not the student’s advisor—which speaks very highly of her contributions.”
Fabrizio’s administration and service record includes the highest honor in the American Fisheries Society, serving as president of the AFS from 2007 to 2008, and vice president from 2004 to 2006. “As the only woman in her department, and the sixth female AFS president out of 129 presidents, Mary has been a role model for many of the young women who have worked with her,” says Glaser. “Her ability to balance research, teaching, and service—not to mention her personal life—is truly remarkable.”
Through her research and publications, Fabrizio is well-known as an important contributor to understanding the biology and ecology of many commercially important marine and estuarine species, including striped bass, blue catfish, American eel, summer flounder, and black sea bass. She also has an impressive record when it comes to obtaining grant funds.
Fabrizio’s curriculum vitae lists 63 grants totaling more than $8.25 million, and Glaser says many of the grants fund data collection critical to stock assessment of commercially valuable fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay and mid-Atlantic regions.
“Mary directs the VIMS Juvenile Trawl and Striped Bass Seine Surveys that develop indices of abundance for dozens of important fishes,” says Glaser. “This is what I believe to be Mary’s most valuable contribution to fisheries science, and I’ve been immensely impressed with the dedication Mary has shown for keeping these programs alive.”
Former AFS President Dr. Don Jackson says, “Mary Fabrizio is an outstanding marine fisheries professional and absolutely deserving of the Oscar E. Sette Award. I have the greatest respect and admiration for her personally and professionally, and she’s a treasured colleague and friend.”
The Oscar E. Sette Award is named after Dr. Oscar Elton Sette, a pioneer in the development of fisheries oceanography. Recognized both nationally and internationally for his many contributions to marine research, many fisheries scientists consider Sette to be the father of modern fisheries oceanography in the United States.