David L. Kirchman receives UD's 2010 Francis Alison Faculty Award
David L. Kirchman, recipient of the 2010 Francis Alison Faculty Award

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9:06 a.m., May 21, 2010----David L. Kirchman, the Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Marine Biosciences in the University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, is the recipient of the 2010 Francis Alison Faculty Award, the University's highest faculty honor.

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The Alison Award, established by the Board of Trustees in 1978, is given to a member of the faculty who has made notable contributions to his or her field of study and who best characterizes “the scholar-schoolmaster,” as exemplified by the Rev. Dr. Francis Alison, who, in 1743, founded the institution that is now the University of Delaware. The honor includes a $10,000 prize and membership in the Alison Society, which is composed of previous award recipients.

“The Alison Award recognizes Delaware's best faculty members, and Dr. Kirchman is a most worthy addition to this august body of scholars,” Provost Tom Apple said. “Dave's research in marine microbiology has won him worldwide recognition, and the caliber of his research is matched by his commitment to teaching. A list of his former students includes faculty members and researchers across the country.”

According to Nancy M. Targett, dean of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, “Dave Kirchman exemplifies the strong traditions of scholarly excellence, student mentorship, and statesman-like service that are the hallmark of the Francis Alison Faculty awardees.

“He has a big vision and thinks and acts across scientific disciplines, dismissing the typical silos in favor of the bigger picture. That he has excelled is evident according to any independent measure of his body of work. Dave has an outstanding international reputation for his path-finding research in marine microbial ecology and is considered to be the pre-eminent marine microbial ecologist in the world today. His colleagues say that he has re-defined the modern discipline of microbial oceanography. At UD, his colleagues have characterized his contributions to research, teaching, and service as exceptional,” she said.

Kirchman, who is currently on sabbatical in Barcelona, learned of his latest honor from UD President Patrick Harker, who said the award was “very well deserved.”

“I was very surprised and flattered to hear the good news from President Harker,” Kirchman said. “I am deeply honored to receive the prize and to join such an illustrious group of colleagues at the University."

A member of the UD faculty since 1986, Kirchman teaches in the area of microbial ecology, marine biology and biological oceanography.

Widely respected in his field, he was elected in 2008 as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the oldest and largest single life-science membership organization in the world. Election as a fellow involves a rigorous process in which multiple committees consider candidates' records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology.

A veteran of several scientific research cruises, his work has taken him to all part of the globe, including the waters of the Arctic and the Antarctic.

He is the author of Microbial Ecology of the Oceans, published in 2000, with a second edition published in 2008.

Currently on the editorial board of FEMS Microbiological Ecology, Kirchman previously served on the editorial boards of Microbial Ecology, Aquatic Microbial Ecology, and Applied and Environmental Microbiology and is a past editor-in-chief of Limnology and Oceanography.

In 1998, Kirchman was named the Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor in recognition of his distinguished and scholarly contributions as a teacher and researcher.

In the college, he served as Marine Biosciences Program director from 1994-98 and was associate dean from 2001-06.

A graduate of Lawrence University, Kirchman received his master's degree and doctorate in environmental engineering from Harvard University.

Photo by Bob Bowden

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