David Karl

David Karl, director of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’ Daniel K. Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), was awarded the 2015 Balzan Prize in recognition of his lifetime of impactful research in the field of microbial oceanography. This honor includes a prize of 750,000 Swiss Francs ($770,000). Karl is also the Victor and Peggy Brandstrom Pavel Professor of Ocean and Earth Science.

“The International Balzan Prize Foundation’s aim is to promote culture, the sciences and the most meritorious initiatives in the cause of humanity, peace and fraternity among peoples throughout the world,” according to the foundation.

Discoveries with global impact

During the public announcement in Milan, Italy on Monday, September 7 Karl was selected as a prize winner “for his fundamental contributions to the understanding of the role and immense importance of microorganisms in the ocean, and of how microorganisms and phytoplankton control the oceanic carbon, nitrogen and iron cycles, work that has yielded significant insights into global change.”

“I accept this award on behalf of the excellent work of my students, post-docs, staff and collaborators,” said Karl. “Science is a team sport and I have one of the best teams on the planet.”

Lifetime achievement

The General Prize Committee, composed of 20 eminent European scholars and scientists, selects the winners from among the nominations entered by the world&38217;s most important international cultural institutions—universities, research institutes and academies. The subject areas of the prizes are in the humanities and in the sciences. They vary each year so as to recognize emerging fields and give priority to innovative research.

“It was my honor to nominate David for this award,” said Brian Taylor, dean of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology and UH Mānoa interim vice chancellor for research. “Winning the Balzan prize is an international testament to the brilliance of David’s lifetime work and achievements during his 37+ year career at UH Mānoa.”

In the more than five-decade history of the Balzan Prize, only one other oceanographer, Roger Revelle, has been selected as a winner.

The International Balzan Foundation was founded in 1957 through the generosity of Lina Balzan to honor her father, Eugenio Balzan. He spent almost his entire working life at Milan’s leading daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera.

Half of the amount received by the winner of each of the four annual prizes must be destined to research work, preferably involving young scholars and researchers.

The prizes will be presented during the award ceremony to be held in Bern, Switzerland on November 13, 2015.

—By Marcie Grabowski