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David Karl
David Karl

Some of the world’s most accomplished leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities and the arts have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among those elected this year is David Karl, the Victor and Peggy Brandstrom Pavel chair in oceanography and director of the Daniel K. Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Members of the 2015 class include winners of the Nobel Prize and the Pulitzer Prize; MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships; and Grammy, Emmy, Oscar and Tony Awards.

“I am humbled and honored by this announcement from the academy,” said Karl. “I have been very fortunate to be able to work with such great students, postdocs and staff here at UH, and with colleagues from around the world. I am also grateful for the outstanding support from the university leadership, and generous funding from the National Science Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Agouron Institute and the Simons Foundation.”

Karl will join a diverse group of Academy members–including two who inspired him in his early life: Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney—at a ceremony on October 10, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

American Academy of Arts and Sciences honor

One of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, the American Academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, global security and international affairs, social policy and American institutions and the humanities, arts and education.

“We are honored to elect a new class of extraordinary women and men to join our distinguished membership,” said Don Randel, chair of the academy’s board of directors. “Each new member is a leader in his or her field and has made a distinct contribution to the nation and the world. We look forward to engaging them in the intellectual life of this vibrant institution.”

Microbial oceanography pioneer

For decades, Karl had been a leader in the field of microbial oceanography, even having a hand in creating the discipline. Karl, who joined the UH faculty in 1978, has spent much of his career building teams of scientists to tackle large, complex scientific questions.

Though the organisms he studies are the smallest inhabitants of our planet, the implications of Karl’s research are huge. The Hawaiʻi Ocean Time-series (HOT) program, co-founded by Karl, provides a cornerstone in understanding of the ocean’s role in regulating climate and global nutrient cycles. And C-MORE, the NSF-supported Science and Technology Center Karl and colleagues established in 2006 at UH Mānoa, assesses marine microorganisms from genomes to biomes. Last year he and UH Mānoa colleague and academy member Ed DeLong established the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE) to enhance understanding of how microbes control the flow of energy and material in the open sea.

“David is a hugely productive long-time member of the UH Mānoa faculty. He has made exceptional contributions to our understanding of the role of microorganisms in the structure and function of the ocean ecosystems in the Pacific and around the world, said UH Mānoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman.

“I look forward to continuing the important challenge of enhancing the public understanding of science, and to helping inspire and recruit the next generation of scientists,” Karl said. “There is plenty of hard work ahead. It should be an exciting next decade.”

Largest ever private award to UH funds microbial oceanography research

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