This award is 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 through his many generous donations.
This year’s Freeman Award goes to Dr. John Harding.
During the past 3 years, John has been a dedicated volunteer in Dr. Hein’s Coastal Geology Lab. He sought out the lab as a place to volunteer his time in retirement from the Northern Gulf Institute, where he served as Chief Scientist following a career as a physical oceanographer for the Navy. Undaunted by a lack of coring experience, John joined the VIMS team on a number of sediment-coring campaigns across Virginia and its barrier islands. John refers to these intense, physically draining, and commonly week-long campaigns as “summer camp.” He is always willing and eager to throw himself into the most routine or labor-intensive jobs; whatever is needed. A favorite activity seems to be cleaning the core-system, a thankless task requiring continuous effort and hard labor. For this, he earns only cheap meals and cheaper beer. He is the ideal field assistant: a happy warrior, eager to push himself tirelessly to ensure success. John integrates himself as a full team member in the field and lab, and his presence makes the work more productive, smooth, and fun.
John is a valued member of the Coastal Geology Lab, and a truly deserving recipient of this year’s Freeman Volunteer award.