Judith L. Meyer and her Naumann-Thienemann medal.
In the mid-1970’s Judith L. Meyer, a graduate student at the time, attended her first meeting of International Society of Limnology. Little did she know that years later she would receive their life time achievement award.
“It was a shock, I had no idea I was even being considered,” Meyer said. The award, known as the Naumann-Thienemann medal, is the highest honor that is bestowed internationally for outstanding scientific contributions to limnology, the study of bodies of fresh water. It is presented once every three years at the organization’s international congress, which was held this year in Capetown, South Africa.
“It is the highlight of my professional career, to be recognized by your colleagues, particularly internationally, is huge for me,” Meyer said.
Meyer has lived on Lopez full-time for three years, but has summered there for 15. Originally from Wisconsin, she studied in Michigan and Hawaii and at Cornell. Her initial plan of becoming an oceanographer was complicated by sea sickness. Once on the water, Meyer realized that the broad spans of ocean were not for her. Thus she shifted her interest to a different scale and focused on smaller bodies of water. “I saw them as an ecosystem in themselves,” Meyer said, adding that they are as equally complex as oceans, just on a different scale.
This change of discipline paid off, as Meyer is now an internationally recognized aquatic ecologist, with a specific interest in urban rivers and streams, and the role of headwater streams and riparian zones in river networks.
The Naumann-Thienemann medal recognizes her contributions in these areas as well as her research on microbial food webs in stream ecosystems and her work linking science and policy.
Among numerous other accolades, Meyer is a former president of the Ecological Society of America, and was named one of thirty National Clean Water Act Heroes by the Clean Water Network in 2002. Although now retired, she continues to work in her field, affiliated with an environmental protection agency, the California Delta Program as well as working for salmon recovery in the San Juan Islands.