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12th Symposium obituaries

Eugene F. Stoermer (1934-2012)

Eugene F. Stoermer (1934-2012)

Eugene F. Stoermer

Eugene F. Stoermer (but Gene to everyone) was born on March 7 1934, and died after a 2 year fight with cancer on February 17, 2012. He was 77 years old. He leaves behind his wife Bobbie, 3 children and 5 grandchildren.

Gene’s work was well known to many of us, and especially the diatom community, where he made tremendous contributions to diatom systematics and ecology. His paleolimnological work focussed on large lake systems and especially the Great Lakes. Gene was a professor of biology at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. His Bachelor of Science degree was obtained in 1958 and his Doctor of Science in 1963, both from Iowa State University.

Gene guided 24 students in his lab in their graduate programs and served on numerous other dissertation committees. He is the author of over 200 publications and numerous reports. Most recently he co-edited the book The Diatoms: Applications for the Environmental and Earth Sciences. Gene was diagnosed with cancer while we were working on this second edition, but he continued with his enthusiastic contributions and insightful comments.

Gene originally coined and used the term Anthropocene from the early 1980s to refer to the impact and evidence for the impact of human activities on the planet earth. The word was not used in general culture until it was popularized in 2000 by Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen and others who regard the influence of human behavior on Earth’s atmosphere in recent centuries as so significant as to constitute a new geological era.

Gene served on the editorial board of the Journal of Paleolimnology for many years, where he was always known for his constructive and thoughtful reviews. He also served as editor of Diatom Research, and was a past-President of both the Phycological Society of America and the International Society for Diatom Research.

Gene will be remembered for his impressive contributions to science, for his work as a teacher and mentor to many younger colleagues, and perhaps most importantly, for being a decent human being.

Seward R. (Ted) Brown (1918-2010)

Ted, who was 92 years old, died peacefully at his home north of Kingston on the evening of July 2, 2010. He was surrounded by some close friends.

After being born and raised in Nova Scotia in eastern Canada, and following 5 years of decorated military service in World War II, Ted came to Queen’s University to take his bachelor’s and master’s degree, working on the Lake Opinicon region. Ted’s Masters thesis was entitled: “Some aspects of lake soils in relation to the productivity of a lake”.

After his MA degree, he returned to teach at the prestigious Pictou Academy in Nova Scotia, as a high school teacher. Nonetheless, his interest in limnology had been kindled, and during his summers he would return to Kingston to work as a research assistant with the new limnology professor at Queen’s – Dr. Jack Vallentyne. In the early 1950’s, Vallentyne was starting work on sediment cores and the newly developing field of “paleolimnology” or using the information contained in lake sediments to track past environmental and ecological changes. It was these `biochemical fossils’ that would be the focus of Ted ‘s scientific career, and in fact he is now often referred to as the “father of fossil pigment analyses” by paleolimnologists world-wide.

In 1954 Ted was accepted to work towards a doctorate with Prof. G. E. Hutchinson at Yale University on the sedimentary chlorophylls of Little Round Lake (a small lake north of Kingston). It was during the Yale years (1954-1959) that Ted did his original work on the algal and bacterial chlorophylls and their derivatives in lake sediments. This clearly required an integrated approach. In realistic terms this meant that he received degrees in both the chemical and biological sciences.

Ted returned to Queen’s University in 1959 as a new assistant professor where he led a small but diverse group of limnologists and paleolimnologists. I was honoured to be one of his last graduate students in the 1980s, as was Peter Leavitt – who is also at this meeting.

Although Ted retired in the late 1980s, he was clearly delighted with the rapid expansion of paleolimnology over the last 20 years, and was pleased with the successes of his colleagues here and aboard.