2019 Yentsch-Schindler Award Recipient

Robert Spencer (Florida State University)

The Yentsch-Schindler Early Career Award honors an early-career scientist for outstanding and balanced contributions to research, education and society. Robert Spencer is the 2019 recipient of the Yentsch-Schindler Award for his contributions to our understanding of the biogeochemical processes involving the production, fate and transport of organic matter in terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments, and his projections on how anthropogenic impacts will affect these processes. Spencer, an Associate Professor at Florida State University, will receive the award at the ASLO Aquatic Sciences Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico in February 2019.

Spencer’s research aims to understand the fate of organic matter released from terrestrial systems into freshwater and marine systems. In order to understand these complex dynamics, he employs advanced organic matter characterization techniques in areas that are difficult to reach and work in, but critical to study. In his quest to better understand anthropogenic impacts on the global carbon cycle, Spencer has undertaken diverse studies ranging from examining the fate of organic carbon released from glacial melting and permafrost thawing, to assessing the impacts of pristine land conversion on carbon export in watersheds like the Congo and Amazon. Spencer’s dedication to understanding these geochemical processes has impressively led to greater than 100 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals which to-date have been cited over 6,300 times, and includes 52 manuscripts published in the last four years.

Beyond his extraordinary research accomplishments, Spencer is admired by his peers for his dedication to teaching and mentoring, which extends to innovative programs for middle school students. Spencer engages in international collaborations frequently and is known to provide unique opportunities for students to participate in Arctic research and work with indigenous communities. He has also interacted extensively with the media, including major venues such as CBS, Newsweek and National Public Radio.

“The scope of Rob Spencer’s accomplishments is impressive, especially for someone so early in their career. In addition to all that he has achieved in the field and classroom, Rob is an active member of several scientific societies including ASLO; his service to ASLO was recognized last year when he was named an ASLO Fellow. We are pleased to honor his research on organic matter this year with the Yentsch-Schindler award.” said ASLO President Michael Pace.

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