George W. Kling’s Robert G. Wetzel Collegiate Professorship was renewed for a five-year term by the U-M Board of Regents. Kling will present his collegiate professorship inaugural lecture, “Taming the killer lakes in Africa,” Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 4:10 p.m. in the Founders Room of the Alumni Center.
The explosive release of carbon dioxide gas from Lakes Nyos and Monoun in Cameroon resulted in the loss of nearly 1,800 lives. As natural hazards, these exploding lakes were new to science, and studies soon revealed that without intervention the gas would accumulate in the lakes again and result in repeat disasters. Kling’s presentation describes the dynamics and dangers of these lakes and the steps taken for the risk reduction and prevention of further natural catastrophes.
Wetzel, the namesake of the professorship, was a professor of biology at the University of Michigan from 1986 to 1990. According to Kling, Wetzel is probably the most well-known aquatic ecologist in the world. He published 23 books and over 400 journal articles. His textbook, "Limnology: Lake and River Ecosystems" is the classic treatise in the field.
"One special trait of Bob's that I particularly admired was his commitment to supporting and encouraging young scientists in developing countries," said Kling. "Bob loved this university, and even after he left, he visited many times in part because he had family in the area, but mainly to soak up the place and renew his feeling of being a part of our intellectual community. Much to our loss, Bob passed away in April 2005. In 1990, when I came to the university just one year after he left, I inherited his office and laboratory – I still think of Bob often as I sit at his old desk."
Kling received his doctorate degree from Duke University in 1988 and was a postdoctoral fellow at The Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole from 1988-1991. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1997. He received a National Academy of Sciences Young Investigator Award (1993), a National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellowship (1995), the United Nations Sasakawa Award (2001) for his work on disaster reduction in tropical lakes, and the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography Ruth Patrick Award (2007) for applied work in aquatic sciences (2007). He joined U-M in 1991 as a research scientist with the Center for Great Lakes and Aquatic Sciences and was a professor of biology for 12 years before he became professor of EEB. He has served as the associate chair of EEB's graduate program. Kling studies ecosystem ecology and aquatic biogeochemistry.
The professorship, which became effective September 1, 2009, is one of the highest honors the college and the university can bestow upon an eminent member of the faculty.
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