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Elena Litchman lands prestigious award for scientific excellence in aquatic ecology

Elena Litchman, professor of aquatic ecology at Michigan State University, is the recipient of the 2021 G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award from the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO).

The Hutchinson award is presented each year to a limnologist or oceanographer who has made considerable contributions to knowledge, and whose future work promises a continued legacy of scientific excellence.

Headshot of Elena Litchman
Elena Litchman, MSU Foundation Professor of aquatic ecology, is the recipient of the 2021 Evelyn Hutchinson Award from the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography. Credit: Harley J. Seeley

“Displaying exceptional depth and breadth in her scientific endeavours, Dr. Litchman exemplifies a highly impactful and seasoned mid-career aquatic scientist,” said ASLO President, Roxane Maranger. “Perhaps most impressive has been her ability to cross scientific boundaries, including the fresh-salty divide.”

“I am honored, humbled and very grateful to ASLO for this award, said Litchman, an MSU Foundation professor who is a W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) faculty member with a joint appointment in the MSU Department of Integrative Biology (IBIO) in the College of Natural Science and the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Program. “It is especially exciting to me that the award is named after G. Evelyn Hutchinson, whose work has been a huge inspiration throughout my career. I look forward to continuing my research toward a more mechanistic and predictive microbial community ecology.”

Litchman is perhaps best known for her seminal work developing a trait-based approach for the study of plankton ecology. Application of the trait-based framework—originally described in terrestrial plant ecology—to phytoplankton community dynamics has been transformational for the field. Litchman’s 2007 and 2008 papers, which were the first to describe the trait-based approach for phytoplankton communities, have been collectively cited more than 1,000 times.

Since then, Litchman has seamlessly integrated observational, experimental, and theoretical methods and approaches to understanding plankton community structure and function across freshwater and marine environments. Litchman continues to apply this framework to answer important questions in phytoplankton ecology, such as impacts of climate change on communities, with a research program that is both highly collaborative and international in nature.

Read more at NatSci.