Environmental scientist’s early warning indicators win the prize

Promising environmental researcher David Seekell has been awarded a prestigious prize: the Science and SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists. He was awarded the prize for his dissertation at Umeå University that developed early warning indicators for environmental tipping points practically usable to government officials and landowners.

 

science-and-scilifelab-prize-trophy-by-alicia-berg
The prize trophy was designed by Alicia Bergsten. “The black chromosome symbolizes that last piece that makes the puzzle complete and solves the scientific question. It’s for finding this piece that the awardees have received the Prize,” says Alicia Bergsten. Credit: Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse/Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences

(ag/ehj) The Science and SciLifeLab Prize is global and is only awarded to four young scientists per year for the best dissertation work, of which only one goes to someone in the field of environmental science. This year’s award-winner in the category of Ecology and Environment is David Seekell who is associate senior lecturer at the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science at Umeå University in Sweden.

“It’s a great honour to win this prize. I’m excited for the international visibility this will bring my research programme and I feel a renewed energy to continue addressing difficult and important questions that are worthy of the prize,” says David Seekell.

2015-09-16 Stockholm. David Seekell, Wallenberg Academy Fellows. Foto: Markus Marcetic
2015-09-16 Stockholm. David Seekell, Wallenberg Academy Fellows. Foto: Markus Marcetic David Seekell, researcher at Umeå University in Sweden, received the Prize for Young Scientists for research that contributed to the development of early warning indicators for environmental tipping points. Credit: Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse/Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences

David Seekell received the Prize for Young Scientists for research that contributed to the development of early warning indicators for environmental tipping points including desertification in arid regions, fisheries collapses in the oceans, and algae blooms in lakes. His praised dissertation describes an experiment where an entire lake was instrumented and then manipulated to create a tipping point. Early warning indicators were apparent well in advance of the experimental tipping point. This study was proof-of-concept that government officials and landowners may one day be able to use early warning indicators to adapt policy and management to avoid costly or potentially irreversible environmental degradation.

“For me it’s very exciting to be able to communicate my research to Science’s broad audience. I think that fundamental environmental science, the type of research I conduct, creates important societal benefits and I hope that the dissertation that won me the prize will convey this to Science’s readers.”

While the award is addressed to him, he sees it as a reflection of a broader commitment of the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science to research excellence. Besides being awarded a trophy and USD 10 000, he is given the opportunity to publish a scientific paper in Science, and also attend a discussion panel at Karolinska Institutet with the editor of Science.

The prize ceremony takes place in Stockholm on 9 December in the Hall of Mirrors at the Grand Hotel.

 

Further information:

Anna Lawrence

Communications Office, Umeå University

+46 72 245 90 11

anna.lawrence@umu.se

 

Original article in Science:
Seekell, D.: Passing the point of no return. Science (2016) Vol 354 Issue 6315. 10.1126/science.aal2188
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6316/1109.3

 

Bilder:

Bild1:

The prize trophy was designed by Alicia Bergsten. “The black chromosome symbolizes that last piece that makes the puzzle complete and solves the scientific question. It’s for finding this piece that the awardees have received the Prize,” says Alicia Bergsten. Credit: Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse/Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences

Bild 2:

David Seekell, researcher at Umeå University in Sweden, received the Prize for Young Scientists for research that contributed to the development of early warning indicators for environmental tipping points. Credit: Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse/Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences

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