Notre Dame researcher honored for outstanding work in aquatic sciences

Author: Deanna Csomo McCool

Jennifer Tank

Jennifer Tank, the Galla Professor of Biological Sciences, has been honored with the 2019 Ruth Patrick Award from the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO).

Each year, the Ruth Patrick Award is presented to a scientist for outstanding research in the application of basic aquatic science principles to the identification, analysis, and/or solution of important environmental problems. Tank was recognized specifically for her contributions to aquatic biogeochemistry. Her lab applies fundamental concepts to human-impacted agricultural landscapes, and then engages farmers and others in discussions about how conservation practices influence stream management. 

“Jennifer’s work to bring together farmers, conservationists, and others to investigate the relationship between agricultural practices and water quality is remarkable,” said Michael Pace, ASLO president. “I especially admire the studies she is doing to test the impacts of different crop rotations at the watershed scale.”

Tank, who is also director of the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative, studies the biogeochemistry of streams and rivers through evaluation of nutrient and carbon cycling as well as the effect of human activities on water quality. Her research includes the use of field-scale conservation and floodplain restoration in waterways in order to reduce agricultural run-off, which has since expanded to several additional projects, including evaluating impact of winter cover crops in Great Lakes watersheds, the development of a yeast-based detection system of  phosphate in water, and the application of new monitoring methods to detect genetically engineered organisms.

"We are honored that ASLO recognized Professor Tank for her important work in aquatic biogeochemistry," said Mary Galvin, the William K. Warren Foundation Dean of the College of Science. "Her work has been on the forefront of the field for a number of years, and she is a respected leader with a special ability to connect science with the needs and interests of stakeholders."

Tank is the 2018-19 president of the Society for Freshwater Science and her studies have become foundational works for stream biogeochemistry, with more than 13,000 citations. Tank came to Notre Dame in 2000 after working as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, and was promoted to full professor at Notre Dame in 2010.