Alaska national wildlife refuges were well represented when U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe announced the Services 2011 Science Leadership and Rachel Carson award recipients.
Jeff Williams of Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge received the Science Leadership award, and the biology program at Kenai Refuge won the Rachel Carson group award.
Williams, a wildlife biologist, is responsible for inventory, monitoring and research on the 3.3millionacre Aleutian Islands Unit of Alaska Maritime Refuge. Stretching more than 1,000 miles west of mainland Alaska and with more than 200 named islands, the Aleutians support several million breeding seabirds and various endemic species.
The Aleutians also contain many volcanoes. Williams leads a team of volcanologists, botanists, soil scientists, entomologists and seabird biologists studying the biological recovery of Kasatochi Island after a 2008 eruption covered the island in a thick layer of volcanic material.
Williams is also the chief scientist aboard the largest research vessel in the Service, M/V Tiglax, and has collaborated with an array of scientists investigating marine and terrestrial resources around the Aleutians.
The Science Leadership award recognizes exceptional scientific accomplishments that have lasting influence on the management of fish and wildlife resources.
The Rachel Carson group award went to a Kenai Refuge biology program team that includes Ed Berg, Matt Bowser, Toby Burke, Rick Ernst, Todd Eskelin, Mark Laker, Dawn Magness and John M. Morton.
The Kenai Refuge biologists were cited for leading from the field in developing a scientific approach that will direct the refuges strategic response to climate change. In addition, they were honored for having made significant contributions to Department of the Interior climate change initiatives at regional and national levels.
Jeff Williams, wildlife biologist at Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, received the Science Leadership award.
The Carson individual award was presented to Jeffrey Olsen, a geneticist with the Service, also in Alaska.
Olsen was honored for careerlong scientific excellence.
The Rachel Carson awards are given to individuals and groups who provide key scientific support for innovative conservation efforts on behalf of federal, state and private conservation organizations.