Rhode Island Sea Grant presents Dr. Theodore Smayda with "Recognition of Outstanding Service Award"
Award recognizes 50 years of research on water quality in Narragansett Bay
Phytoplankton provide half of the earth's oxygen supply and are the basis of the ocean food chain. Impacts to these microscopic organisms from increases—and decreases—in pollution, climate change, and other factors can make for significant changes to marine ecosystems and beyond. And the only way to track and try to understand these changes is to study these organisms over a long period of time.
Dr. Theodore Smayda, research professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, has been studying these tiny marine plants in Narragansett Bay for 50 years—since his days as a graduate student. His work has been the basis of a database considered the oldest in the world for a temperate estuary. Smayda and fellow GSO researcher David Borkman have been documenting and translating their collected data to an online resource from hundreds of handwritten notebooks.
In recognition of Smayda, the scope and significance of this research, and the arduous undertaking of making it available online to researchers around the world, Dr. Barry Costa-Pierce, director of Rhode Island Sea Grant, presented him with a "Recognition of Outstanding Service Award" at an event honoring Smayda and his life's work on June 23, 2011. The award noted Smayda's "outstanding service to Narragansett Bay, the global marine science community, the University of Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program." Rhode Island Sea Grant funding supported digitizing the phytoplankton database.
"I am deeply honored to receive this recognition and award," said Smayda, who hopes others will use the data to improve the understanding and management of estuarine ecosystems to preserve their integrity given the challenges ahead. "It's all about exploring unknown territory and helping to build better understanding. I've been fortunate to have been able to spend 50 years doing so on Narragansett Bay."
This event was part of GSO's 50th anniversary celebration; for information on upcoming events, click here. For more information on Professor Smayda's research, see the latest issue of the Rhode Island Sea Grant/URI Coastal Institute magazine 41°N, online at seagrant.gso.uri.edu/41N.