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Distinguished Service Award

June 11, 2008


Peter A. Jumars

Darling Marine Center, University of Maine, Walpole, ME USA


Service is generally viewed as a sacrifice on the part of the server. Two functions have endured in scientific societies from the outset: meeting of people with common interests and publishing of peer-reviewed research results. Even these core society functions have ample room for service that empowers the server as well as the society. As I can attest, nothing hones editorial skills like suddenly being Editor-in-Chief of a major journal and nothing hones leadership skills like running an ASLO Board Meeting. Societies now offer a much wider array of standing and ad hoc committee service than was available even a decade ago. From the individual perspective, these activities allow tremendous opportunities to amplify a single person’s efforts and to engage with like-minded colleagues toward worthy goals. One way to choose where among the panoply of scientific societies to put one’s efforts is to match the fit of your own aspirations with service opportunities in that organization. Both precision of fit and scale of the enterprise matter.

The ASLO Distinguished Service Award is awarded “to recognize members who have displayed exceptional efforts that support the professional goals and enhance the stature of ASLO.” Pete Jumars is this year’s recipient of the ASLO Distinguished Service Award. For at least the past twenty-seven years, Pete has been intimately involved with ASLO on everything from publications to representing ASLO in national coalitions for professional societies. One would be hard pressed to find another individual who has volunteered so much time to so many different facets of ASLO.

Pete joined ASLO in 1969 at the suggestion of his undergraduate advisor. His formal service to the society began in 1980, when he served on the Board of Directors as a Member-at-Large. He was elected to the ASLO Board again in 2000, this time as President-Elect. Pete’s presidency came at a time of transition for ASLO. While Pete was President-Elect, ASLO moved its Executive Director’s Office to Washington, D.C., in response to the society becoming increasingly aware of the need for a greater involvement in science policy and public information. Throughout his six-year term on the Board, Pete was instrumental in determining a science policy role for ASLO that fit both the society’s comfort level and budget. As a result, he helped position ASLO as a key player in facilitating communication of aquatic science to decision makers.

At the same time, he led the society during difficult negotiations over the venue and operation of the jointly-sponsored Ocean Sciences Meeting. These negotiations literally lasted for more than a year, and many Presidents would have pulled the plug on the joint meeting. Knowing how important it was to bring the ocean science disciplines together, Pete encouraged continued negotiations, which eventually led to a successful outcome and no lasting liver damage for Pete.

A key guiding principle of Pete’s presidency was to listen to the membership. Perhaps the best illustration of Pete’s approach was the 2004 ASLO member survey. Although he was nearing the end of his Presidency, Pete led the design of the survey questionnaire, and as Past President, continued to take the lead in analyzing and reporting the results to both the Board and the ASLO membership.

While it is hard to pinpoint where Pete has had the most influence within ASLO, it is certain that he has been a key figure in the history of Limnology & Oceanography as well as ASLO’s other publishing activities. He served as Editor-in-Chief for L&O from 1986 to 1992. In about the middle of that term, in part to allow his escape, he oversaw transition from a sole editorship to a board of associate editors. Later, Pete served on the L&O Editorial Advisory Committee (1995 - 1997). Since 2005, Pete has served as the Associate Editor for Scholarly Reviews for L&O. Since 2006, he has chaired the ad hoc Committee on Open Access and has led a vigorous discussion of the pros and cons of the open-access movement, which inevitably will have enormous consequences for the society. As members of the open-access committee, we can attest to Pete’s commitment to helping ASLO make well-informed decisions regarding open-access publishing. Remarkably, Pete also serves on two other working groups considering new publications: the ad hoc committee to evaluate the proposed Limnology and Oceanography: Environments and Fluids journal, and the ad hoc committee on web books.

Pete has also helped build ASLO’s influence in the broader scientific community. Since 2003, Pete has participated in the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP), an umbrella organization for professional scientific societies. During the semi-annual meetings, presidents of societies from all disciplines of science discuss issues of common interest and concern, ranging from research funding to publications to new regulations for non profits. Pete served enthusiastically on the Council while he was President, and agreed to continue serving beyond his term. During that time, he was elected as Secretary, then Treasurer and for 2008 as Chair of the Council, an honor that attests to the respect our colleagues outside of limnology and oceanography have for Pete. Pete’s participation in CSSP benefits ASLO in terms of learning from the experiences of other societies and networking with high-ranking policy officials. Additionally, Pete has been able to move several issues of import to ASLO, such as freshwater research, to the CSSP’s priority list, thereby adding the weight of CSSP’s sixty member societies (and their 1.4 million members) to ASLO’s causes.

Eleven years ago, ASLO recognized Pete Jumars’ scientific achievements with the Hutchinson award. This year, ASLO is pleased to recognize Pete’s service to the society with the ASLO Distinguished Service Award.

Cited by Adrienne Sponberg, ASLO Public Affairs Office, Silver Spring Maryland, USA, and Paul Kemp, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

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