Best Student Paper Awards

Each year a committee of faculty and students undertakes the difficult task of choosing the best journal articles from the many high-quality papers written by VIMS graduate students. Each paper considered is either accepted, in press, or published in a high-quality, peer-reviewed journal. The papers reflect the superb quality of the research conducted by VIMS students and the outstanding mentoring of their advisors. Papers are judged for the scope of problem, degree of challenge, magnitude of student’s effort, hypothesis formulation and testing, and writing style.

The committee, which included Kam Tang, Rich Brill, Carl Friedrichs, Ryan Carnegie, and GSA representative Samantha Sifleet, evaluated 10 papers in the Ph.D. category, and 5 in the Master’s category.

This year’s choice for the best paper by a Master’s student goes to Jesse Jarvis for her article on “Influence of environmental factors on Vallisneria americana seed germination” which was published in Aquatic Botany and co-authored by Ken Moore.

Jesse's paper deals with some of the least understood components of seagrass ecology, namely the relationships between environmental factors and seed germination. This work is especially significant as seeds are an increasingly necessary source of reproductive material for recovery of natural beds, and are becoming an important tool in habitat restoration.

The award for a PhD student goes to Heidi Geisz for her paper “Melting glaciers: A probable source of DDT to the Antarctic marine ecosystem” published in Environmental Science & Technology. The paper was co-authored by Rebecca Dickhut, Michele Cochran, Bill Fraser, and Hugh Ducklow.

Heidi’s paper demonstrated that DDT and its metabolites have not declined in Adélie penguins from western Antarctica in more than 30 years, indicating that there is a current source of DDT to the Antarctic marine food web. Using existing measurements and modeling, Geisz and her colleagues showed that the likely source of this DDT is release of old DDT from rapidly melting glaciers in western Antarctica.

Heidi’s research was featured by a variety of media including the journal Nature, National Geographic, and The New York Times.

Congratulations Jesse and Heidi!

Read the papers on-line.