Each year, the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography presents the A.C. Redfield Lifetime Achievement Award to honor an aquatic scientist for major, long-term achievements in the fields of limnology and oceanography, including research, education, and service to the community and society. The recipient of the 2021 A.C. Redfield Lifetime Achievement Award is Dr. Ron Benner. The award will be presented to Dr. Benner, Chair Emeritus - Carolina Distinguished Professor at the University of South Carolina, at the 2021 ASLO Aquatic Sciences Virtual Meeting in June.
Dr. Benner’s distinguished career in aquatic microbial ecology and biogeochemistry spans three decades. Beginning by uncovering the reactivity of plant lignins and terrigenous organic matter in the ocean carbon cycle, Benner has made numerous and sustained contributions to our understanding of the origins, transformations and fate of organic matter in the ocean. Among many discoveries, he is perhaps best known for his conception of the “size-reactivity continuum” hypothesis, which describes the reactivity of organic carbon along a size-gradient. Additionally, his work contributed to the development of the “microbial carbon pump” concept. Benner’s full body of literature on these topics are highly cited (>25,000 citations), within the top 0.5% of all researchers.
Dr. Benner has been an active educator, mentor, and member of the aquatic science community throughout his career. As an ASLO Sustaining Fellow, Benner has made numerous and varied contributions to the broader ASLO community, including through chairing conference sessions and serving on committees. Benner also holds an Einstein Professorship with the Chinese Academy of Sciences for advancing scientific collaboration between the U.S. and China, fellowships with AGU and AAAS, and many other distinguished fellowships and appointments.
“It is fitting that Ron Benner is receiving the A.C. Redfield Award, as both Redfield and Benner have transformed our understanding of oceanic biogeochemistry,” says ASLO President Roxane Maranger. “Ron is a giant in the field of organic matter geochemistry and microbial availability across the aquatic continuum and a wonderful addition to this group of distinguished aquatic scientists."