Lifetime Achievement Award

The inaugural recipient of VIMS’ Lifetime Achievement Award is Dr. Iris Anderson.

VIMS Dean and Director John Wells and Professor Iris AndersonIris is an extraordinary scientist with an extensive and interdisciplinary research portfolio. Her work includes studying the role of algae in shallow water nutrient cycling, nutrient dynamics in salt marshes, interactions between groundwater and surface water, the impact of climate variability on benthic processes, and the effects of bivalve aquaculture on sediment biogeochemistry. Her research has informed our understanding and management of eutrophication in estuaries and coastal waters, and her chapter with Samantha Joye on nitrogen cycling in coastal sediments has been the go-to resource for scientists. She recently expanded her research to investigate the role of estuaries in the global carbon cycle.

Iris has sustained her research with funding from both federal and state agencies, earning $8.2M in grants and contracts since 1989. She has also made a substantial impact through her editorial role with Estuaries and Coasts. During her time as Co-Editor-and-Chief, the impact factor of the journal increased significantly, with citations more than doubling.

Iris has excelled at education, demonstrating remarkable dedication to training the next generation of marine scientists. As Dean of Graduate Studies from 2002 to 2010, she brought wide-reaching advancements, contributed to the development of the undergraduate minor in marine science, and benefitted countless graduate students in their research endeavors. Iris garnered significant grant funding for the VIMS education program through the GK-12, DREAMS, and REU programs, which supported numerous students while bringing real-world research into local classrooms.

One of Iris’ most important contributions has been as a mentor. As one of the most welcoming, caring, and vibrant personalities at VIMS, she has advised 15 Masters and Ph.D. students; mentored 2 post-doctoral researchers, 19 undergraduates, and 7 high-school students; and served on 53 thesis or dissertation committees. Iris is an inspirational role model for all scientists as a successful woman who also puts top priority on family.

Through a lifetime of excellence in research, Iris has greatly expanded our understanding of estuaries and coastal ecosystems. Her gracious honesty; sincere, caring attitude; and dedication to professional service and leadership make her the ideal recipient of VIMS’ inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.