Candidate for Member at Large: Bjorn Wissel

Björn Wissel

Ph.D. 2001 (Biology, Louisiana State University, U.S.A.), M.Sc. 1996 (Hydrobiology, Dresden University of Technology, Germany)


Biographical Information

While I learned the (biological) ropes as an undergraduate at Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany, I truly dove into aquatic sciences at TU Dresden. The quality of instruction and immediate immersion into research at TU Dresden shaped my passion for aquatic systems. Combining basic and applied research has been central to my work since my M.Sc. when I studied the impacts of food-web manipulations on water quality. To expand both my experience and scope of research, I pursued a Ph.D. at LSU on the impacts of environmental controls on food-web dynamics in boreal lakes. It was during this time that I started to feel like a “real scientist”, which was considerably aided by my thoughtful and supportive mentor. For my post-doc (Coastal Ecology, LSU), I switched gears and not only investigated the impacts of the Mississippi River on estuarine and shelf ecosystems, but also learned to work in large teams and manage a stable-isotope facility. During my 16 years in Canada (University of Regina), I divided my efforts among personal research (hardwater lake ecology, impact of oilsands on boreal lakes), research support, teaching and management. In addition, I took on more active roles in aquatic societies (SCL, SIL) to enhance opportunities for students and provide guidance to early-career scientists (ECR). Last year, I started a new professorship position (Functional Ecology) at Claude Bernard University in Lyon, France where I plan to further advance my impact on and support for the aquatic-sciences community.

Candidate Statement

I am very excited about the opportunity to serve as Member-at-Large on the ASLO Board. Conducting both marine and inland-waters research, ASLO conferences and publications have been important outlets to disseminate my research and meet colleagues since I joined ASLO (2000) as a Ph.D. student. My contributions were formally recognized in 2019 (ASLO fellow), and I now desire a more active role in ASLO to learn from and work with the diverse group of individuals serving on the Board and various committees. My main objectives are to improve career opportunities for students, ECR and members of the BIPOC community, and further raise the international profile of ASLO. I would bring to ASLO 1) a strong passion for marine and inland research, 2) a broad international perspective, 3) compassion for mentoring, and 4) extensive leadership experience.

Having lived and worked in four different countries enabled me to experience and successfully navigate diverse educational, research and funding systems. It also shaped my ability to learn about and value diversity in cultures, opinions and peoples. Having an “outside” perspective and different reference-systems can be beneficial to recognize advantages and challenges associated with a specific system, and identify and implement novel solutions.

Over the past decade, I transitioned from focusing on personal research to mentoring students and staff to help them achieve their career goals in a fair, safe, collaborative and inspiring environment. Guiding aspiring young researchers to start their careers in aquatic sciences has been truly rewarding. Nevertheless, it takes commitment, planning, vision and strong interpersonal skills, and I hope to further improve my abilities and impact by joining the ASLO Board.

Particularly during the past years in Canada I pursued a better understanding and training in regard to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and BIPOC members of our communities. I particularly embraced working with First Nations to build trust and develop collaborations that are based on scientific methods and traditional knowledge. Given the diverse committees at ASLO, I envision many opportunities to advance career development of young scientists. I also envision the creation of a new ASLO Award to celebrate the achievements of BIPOC scientists.

From 2019-2022, I served as President of the Society of Canadian Limnologists (SCL). It was a challenge and an opportunity to promote limnological sciences during a pandemic. Our focus during this time was to enhance student / ECR mentoring, grow our membership and improve EDI and BIPOC opportunities. A good example was our 2021 EDI-themed virtual conference that I co-chaired. I imagine that my experience, accomplishments and ideas as SCL President would be an asset when serving on the ASLO Board.

In conclusion, I would like to continue my involvement in aquatic societies to generate opportunities that help all of us adapt to new realities, such as the ongoing pandemic, climate change and globalization. Joining the ASLO Board would be most desirable for me due to its focus on and strength in aquatic sciences, desire to improve mentoring and outreach, and growing international reach.

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