2024 Ruth Patrick Award Recipient

Bernard Sweeney

Photo by Wandering Beagle Photography
-CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Each year, the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) honors an aquatic scientist with the Ruth Patrick Award for research that leads to the identification, analysis, or solution of important environmental problems. The 2024 Ruth Patrick Award will be presented to Dr. Bernard W. Sweeney for a wide range of outstanding scientific achievements focused on root causes of degradation in aquatic ecosystems and for ensuring that these findings resulted in improved management and restoration. The award will be presented to Dr. Sweeney at the 2024 ASLO Summer Meeting in Madison, WI, USA in June.

Dr. Bernard W. Sweeney is currently Distinguished Research Scientist Emeritus at Stroud Water Research Center in Pennsylvania, USA, where he served as President and Executive Director from 1989 until 2017. Dr. Sweeney’s early work, under the mentorship of Dr. Ruth Patrick, examined the effects of temperature on stream macroinvertebrates and led to several ecological concepts that are still used today. These foundational models include the thermal equilibrium concept, which for the first time suggested that temperature changes exert most influence on species through indirect and sometimes subtle cross-generational changes rather than direct lethal impacts on individual organisms.

Under his impressive 35 years of leadership, Sweeney and researchers at the Stroud Center have contributed numerous reforestation methods for successfully reversing degradation in various aquatic ecosystems. During his tenure at the Stroud Center, Sweeney contributed to the founding of the Maritza Biological Station in northwestern Costa Rica (est. 1988) and the Robin L. Vannote Watershed Restoration Program (est. 2014), expanding the scope and impact of the Stroud Center. Sweeney has continually engaged policymakers and the public to achieve lasting, positive environmental changes in the community. His work has been recognized with numerous awards including the Governor’s Award for Watershed Stewardship (2001), the Excellence in Conservation Award from the National Resources Conservation Service (2003), and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Chesapeake Bay Foundation (2006).

ASLO President Pat Glibert says, “Dr. Sweeney’s Ruth Patrick Award is fitting not only because his research has had practical implications for solving important environmental problems, but also because his scientific vision and commitment to mentorship was directly influenced by the award’s namesake. We are thrilled to be honoring Dr. Sweeney’s legacy of environmental stewardship with the 2024 Ruth Patrick Award.”

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