2007 VIMS Service Awards

The following remarks were read by Dean and Director John Wells during VIMS' annual Awards Ceremony on May 2, 2008 to honor recipients of the 2007 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, helping to leverage resources like the research vessel Pelican, a former military landing craft that was renovated for research at VIMS with help from the Freeman family and other generous donors.

The winner of the Freeman Award for 2007 is Ms. Ginny Lascara.

Ginny began her active involvement with VIMS in 2001 as a volunteer on the Annual Fund Committee. She soon became extremely interested in the activities surrounding the Annual Auction, and began working behind the scenes to make every auction a success. Her mastery at inputting the auction-related information has made details of the auction much more workable.

Ginny gives hours of her time to VIMS while owning and operating a fine-art framing business, Black Dog Gallery, which specializes in 18th Century floorcloths, frames, and artwork, and participating as part-owner of Period Designs, a shop with reproduction pieces from the early American era. She donates framing of art work to the Annual Auction each year.

VIMS has been a part of Ginny's life for many years. Her father, Admiral Vincent Lascara, served as a member of the VIMS Council from 1990-1993. Her brother Joseph and sister-in-law Kathy are graduates of VIMS. It is quite obvious that VIMS is a family affair.

Because of her dedication to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the 2007 Volunteer of the Year Award is given to Ginny Lascara. Ginny is a volunteer who truly makes a difference!

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 for 2007 to Mr. Paul Nichols.

Paul Nichols is the perfect combination of a watchdog and guardian angel to the VIMS community. His medical knowledge and competence is astounding and comforting to have on campus. He has recently ensured easy access to automated external defibrillators around campus, and has been instrumental in the preparation of Andrews Hall for office and lab work.

Paul provides a variety of training classes on campus, saving us considerable inconvenience and travel time for the completion of such requirements.

We are all more than aware of the Terrorism Awareness classes that have recently been mandated. Paul immediately stepped up to provide endless opportunities to take the course, despite the fact that he must recite it in his sleep by now!

In addition to this, Paul collects and secures hazardous waste generated by researchers. The hauling of waste is a job in itself, let alone the accompanying paperwork.

Finally, Paul makes the incredible effort to greet and remember all incoming students, and is always willing to support the Institute in any way he can. And…who else would take a cold pudding pie in the face for the good of the GSA?!

It is for these reasons, and many left unsaid, that Paul Nichols is a well-deserving recipient of the Outstanding Classified Employee Award for Facilities, Safety, and Trades. Congratulations, Paul!

Research/Advisory Service

The recipient of the 2007 Outstanding Classified Employee in Research/Advisory Service is Mr. Scott Hardaway

Scott’s work in nearshore and shoreline processes, erosion control, and estuarine policy during the last 30 years has made him one of our most valuable advisory resources and one of VIMS’ best-known figures at the state and local level. As such, his Shoreline Studies Program is considered a cornerstone of VIMS’ mandated state responsibilities.

Scott brings current advances in coastal geology and engineering to advising individuals and organizations. His shoreline management plans for localities, military bases, and individuals are unique products that provide sound strategies coincident with stakeholder goals and interests. These plans have resulted in the construction of millions of dollars of shore zone systems that not only manage erosion and protect upland infrastructure but also provide functional environmental components through the creation of dune, beach, and marsh habitat. His efforts have always brought credit to VIMS.

His research and experience resulted in his appointment to the National Research Council’s Committee on Mitigating Shore Erosion along Sheltered Coasts. Anyone at all familiar with Scott’s work will see his hand throughout their 2007 report.

Scott also was the lead investigator for many projects in the last 10 years researching Chesapeake Bay dunes, which culminated in action by the 2008 General Assembly to increase protection for dunes in all Tidewater localities. The VIMS community and Virginia’s tidal shorelines thank you for a job well done.

Congratulations, Scott!
Technical Support

The winner of the 2007 Outstanding Classified Employee for Technical Support is Ms. Marta Sanderson.

Marta got an early start on a career in oceanography. The legendary Dick Barber hired her as an intern while she was in high school and it has been marine science ever since. She received a B.S. in Zoology from Duke University in 1990 and a M.S. in Marine Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1996.

Marta has worked as a research technician at both the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and the Bermuda Biological Station for Research. She went to the University of Georgia in 1998 to run Debbie Bronk’s lab and moved with her to VIMS in 2000.

Debbie refers to the dark days before Marta was her research partner as “BM”—it stands for “Before Marta” but you get the drift. Since coming to VIMS she has kept a temperamental mass spectrometer happy (knock on wood), a suite of graduate students in line, and Debbie on track while doing research in Chesapeake Bay, the Georgia rivers, the Gulf of Mexico, the north Pacific gyre, Norway, and Antarctica. She has presented research results at conferences around the world and is the first author of a paper in Aquatic Microbial Ecology that should be out any day.

Marta is much deserving of this recognition. She is the quintessential lab manager – excelling at science and organization!

Congratulations, Marta!

Administrative Support

The winner of the 2007 Outstanding Classified Employee for Administrative Support is Ms. Sue Presson.

Sue Presson has been a dedicated employee of the College of William and Mary for 42 years and has served as registrar for the School of Marine Science at VIMS since 1981. As registrar, Sue fulfills a critical role implementing educational policies and procedures established by the Academic Council. She is responsible for evaluating academic records and certifying that students complete all requirements of their degree programs in a timely fashion. She provides the constant guidance and encouragement that help to ensure student success.

Sue is a compassionate person who cares deeply for our students and is dedicated to helping them succeed in every way possible. In addition, she coordinates the registration process; updates the Catalog and Student Handbook; and manages and analyzes data relevant to admissions, enrollment, academic progress, and graduation.

Implementation of educational policy requires that Sue interact closely with SMS faculty committees as well as the University Registrar’s and Bursar’s Offices. With her long-term knowledge of our student body and history of our educational program, Sue has been instrumental in maintaining consistency and quality in operation of the Graduate Dean’s Office. Sue has devoted much of her career to supporting our graduate student body, our educational program, and the Graduate Dean’s Office. She is truly deserving of the Outstanding Classified Employee Award for Administrative Support.

Congratulations, Sue!

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 2007 goes to Dr. Fu-Lin Chu.

Fu-Lin has earned our unabashed admiration during the last decade as an energetic and highly successful scientist—and a genuinely good person. Her success in science is undeniable: she has maintained long-term funding and excellent productivity. In addition, she displays a sincere and active desire to foster young scientists in her group.

In the office, Fu-Lin’s commitment to those she mentors becomes immediately obvious. Her exuberance and openness are contagious. Her door is more than just open to her junior colleagues; she occasionally sprints out her office door to race into the laboratory to help them. Her mentoring has always involved an open smile and attitude: her exceptional mentoring was a natural extension of her personality.

Her past students speak warmly of Fu-Lin and expend considerable effort engaging her in their research. Her gifts are obvious from the praise of past students such as Aswani Voleti and Vincent Encomio. During her career to date, she has mentored 32 undergraduate and high-school students. Most of them are underrepresented, female and minority, students from predominantly minority institutions. It is clear from her words and actions that Fu-Lin feels the best model is someone who is successful herself and actively seeks to foster the success of others. Fu-Lin has served as an excellent role model for women in science as well as minority women in science and is extremely deserving of this award.

Congratulations, Fu-Lin!

Outstanding Teaching 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 Teaching Award is Dr. John Brubaker .

Through his commitment to advising, mentoring, and teaching—especially as the instructor of the physical oceanography component of MS501—John Brubaker has demonstrated a remarkable dedication to education at VIMS.

John has taught or co-taught the physical oceanography component of the SMS core course sequence for 17 straight years to a total of more than 450 graduate students. During 10 of the last 17 years he also lectured in the laboratory component of the SMS core courses. Through his service to the core courses, John has arguably provided more essential oceanographic knowledge to more VIMS graduate students then any other member of our faculty. Each and every year he has received outstanding student course evaluations, which is no small task given the broad background of VIMS students.

The positive impression John has made on physical oceanographers is further evidenced by how often he has been asked to serve as the out-of-specialty member of student thesis and dissertation committees. Over the last 17 years he has served on 74 student advisory committees. All this is in addition to an impressive record in teaching key advanced classes in physical oceanography, mentoring his own PhD and MS students, and advising undergraduate and high school interns.

Thank you, John—you are an excellent role model for those who teach at VIMS and elsewhere, and we all are grateful for your contributions.

Recognition of Special Accomplishments

The following section acknowledges some of the many accolades bestowed on VIMS faculty, students, and staff in 2007. For more details visit the VIMS' Top Stories page at

  • Frank Parker and Abigail Lynch were each awarded a prestigious John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship through the National Sea Grant Federal Fellows Program. This one-year fellowship matches outstanding graduate students from around the nation with hosts in legislative or executive offices in Washington, DC. Lynch is serving her fellowship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Fisheries Program. Parker is serving at NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.
  • David Gillett and Rachael Blake received NERRS Graduate Fellowships.
  • Rob Condon won the Best Student Oral Presentation, at the 2nd International Jellyfish Blooms Symposium in Australia in June 2007.
  • Da Chen won the merit-based George Healey Award from William and Mary, which is awarded annually to an outstanding graduate student by recommendation from the deans of the schools.
  • Andrij Horodyski received a Ryan Kelley Memorial Scholarship from the International Women's Fishing Association, as well as the Dr. James T. Wright Memorial Conservation Award from the Virginia Beach Anglers Association.  Previous VIMS recipients of the award were Lucy in 1985 and Musick in 1991.
  • James Douglass received a Smithsonian Marine Science Network Postdoctoral Fellowship.
  • Stephanie Wilson has been awarded a Montery Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) institutional post-doctoral fellowship.
  • Amanda Spivak was awarded a Postdoctoral position with Dr. Michael Vanni at Miami University of Ohio.
  • Diane Perry won the Historic Triangle Jamestown 2007 Beautification Contest for the best “Anniversary” garden in a residential area.  This was a state-wide contest to celebrate the Jamestown 2007 anniversary—using only red, white and blue flowers in the garden design.
  • Carl Friedrichs, Professor, Physical Sciences, has received the prestigious 2008 Outstanding Faculty Award, the Commonwealth’s highest honor for educators at Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities. The award, sponsored by the State Council of Higher Education and the Dominion Foundation, recognizes the superior accomplishments of Virginia’s higher education faculty through teaching, research, knowledge integration, and public service.
  • Gene Burreson, Professor, Department of Environmental and Aquatic Animal Health, has been designated as Chancellor Professor of Marine Science effective July 1, 2008. This College-wide honor is given to recognize and reward faculty whose contributions to the College/VIMS have been exemplary, and whose impacts in scholarship and service have been profound.
  • Mike Newman, Professor, Department of Environmental and Aquatic Animal Health, has been named the A. Marshall Acuff, Jr. Professor for his achievements in scholarship, teaching, service, and governance, and for the highest level of eminence outside the university.
  • Emmett Duffy, Professor and Chair, Department of Biological Sciences, has been named the Loretta and Lewis Glucksman Professor for achievements in scholarship, teaching, service and governance, and for the highest level of eminence outside the university.
  • Rob Latour, Assistant Professor, Department of Fisheries Science, has been designated the Moses D. Nunnally Distinguished Associate Professor. This professorship is awarded to recognize professional achievement and service and to reward excellence in research and teaching. It will be effective July 1, 2008.
  • Linda Schaffner, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, received the “Distinguished Service Award” from the Estuarine Research Federation for her 10 years of service on the Governing Board.
  • Mary Fabrizio, Associate Professor, Department of Fisheries Science, is serving as President of the American Fisheries Society (2007-2008).
  • Fly Fishers of Virginia Taylor Turner Conservation Award was presented to Virginia Sea Grant Marine Advisory Specialist Jon Lucy. The Taylor award is presented "for conservation of natural resources and improvement of sport fishing opportunities in Virginia." Jon has worked with the Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program since 1995.
  • Roger Mann, Director of Research and Advisory Services was awarded Honored Life Membership in the National Shellfisheries Association this year - on the 100th anniversary of the association.
  • At their annual meeting here at VIMS in March, the Tidewater Chapter of the American Fisheries Society presented Bob Orth with their 2007 Conservation Award for his work on seagrasses, including monitoring, ecological work on seeds, restoration, and management.
  • Jack Musick, Professor of Marine Science, Emeritus, has been awarded the prestigious 2008 Life Achievement in Science Award for significant scientific contributions in his work related to the ecology and conservation of marine fishes and sea turtles. His career spans 40 years at VIMS/The College of William and Mary and his work is recognized both nationally and internationally.