Field Notes
Field Notes

Director emeritus decorated: Engstrom among three scientists connected to Minnesota to receive prestigious paleolimnology prize

Monday, October 15, 2018
Posted by
Greg Seitz

Left to right: Drs. Dan Engstrom, Sheri Fritz, and Svante Björck

Many prominent scientists who study lakes have come from Minnesota, the land of nearly 12,000 bodies of freshwater over 10 acres in size. The state has an esteemed history of studying its most beloved resources, advancing scientific understanding around the world. Now, Minnesota's leadership in lake science has been highlighted again.

Earlier this year, three scientists with connections to Minnesota who study the history of lakes by examining sediment cores were recognized by their international peers. They included Drs. Daniel Engstrom, past director of the Research Station and adjunct professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Minnesota, Sheri Fritz of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Svante Björck of Lund University, in Lund, Sweden.

While they are spread across two states and two continents, the trio all studied together at the University of Minnesota's Limnological Research Center during the 1970s. Engstrom and Fritz were graduate students in the Limnological Research Center (LRC), while Björck was a visiting post-doc. They were all greatly influenced by the late Dr. Herb Wright, the center's founder, director, and an influential lake scientist.

This June, the global organization of scientists who study the history of lakes preserved in sediment cores presented the three LRC alumni with a lifetime achievement award. The International Paleolimnology Association (IPA) presents awards every three years based on contributions to the field of paleolimnology and their application to the wider fields of science and societal understanding of environmental change. Also receiving the awards were Sumin Wang of China and Krystyna Szeroczynska of Poland.

The awards were presented at this summer's joint conference with the International Association of Limnogeology in Stockholm, Sweden. Engstrom's award citation reads in part:

"Dan has been at the forefront of understanding the source of pollutant loads and the mechanisms of lake response to human stressors. He helped develop the lead-210 dating method, refined sediment coring equipment, investigated mercury deposition and cycling, siltation of waterways and eutrophication of lakes, all of which have had a direct influence on the management of water resources.”

Dan is also a recipient of the Dave Ford award, presented at the 2017 Minnesota Water Resources Conference in recognition of his lifetime contributions to improving Minnesota's water quality.