Yasumoto Awards

Prof. Barrie Dale

Barrie Dale with his Yasumoto Award present. A Takayama carving of an Alexandrium tamarense motile cell and its cyst form. (Photo from Monica Lion)

Unconventional? Yes, as in not conventional, being out of the ordinary, and we contend really quite extraordinary. An early decision at age seven sealed his fate to become a geologist. One who would count himself fortunate for not taking the usual path of higher education. Rather as a research technician in the Department of Geology at the University of Sheffield from the late 1950s-1971, Barrie developed sample preparation techniques (Neves & Dale 1963) and honed his microscopy skills in the world of palynologial research. In an unconventional way he was preparing to make significant cross over contributions to dinoflagellate biology and later harmful algal bloom research. In a paper with an unconventional title, “living fossils” in the plankton (Wall & Dale 1966), documented the relationships of the cyst and motile stage of numerous marine and fresh water dinoflagellate species. At the time, an experience similar to successfully hatching a dinosaur egg, as Barrie often puts it. The outcome was not a script for a horror film, but new insights into the ecology and taxonomy of modern dinoflagellates. This work opened the possibility of applying modern cyst ecology to the fossil record and presaged the importance of cyst studies in harmful algal bloom research (Head & Harland 2004). Barrie and David Wall profoundly influenced dinoflagellate research when they, with their colleagues, described the modern distribution of cysts around the North and South Atlantic oceans. Building on this pioneer work, Barrie showed that changes in cyst distribution patterns could be related to standard marine biogeographical zones established from the distribution of other marine organisms. Prior to this evidence there was no indication of such correspondence in phytoplankton (Dale 1993, 1996). Barrie was invited to become a Visiting Scientist in the Department of Maine Biology, University of Oslo in 1974, a rather unconventional position for a geologist. By 1979 he was a Lecturer in the Geology Department and by 1988, having completed his doctorate at the Open University, UK, he became a Senior Lecturer who published on “benthic plankton” (Dale 1983). By his appointment to Full Professor in 2003 this geologist with an unconventional awareness of biology had already taken a ride in a time machine, “looking back into the future of phytoplankton blooms” (Dale 2001). Along the way he was first to document the cyst morphology of the important toxic dinoflagellate Alexandrium tamarense(as Gonyaulax excavata), and showed that the cysts themselves could be toxic (Dale et al. 1978). Barrie’s more recent contributions have urged us to examine the effects of cultural eutrophication and pollution in the marine environment, well documented by the sedimentary record of dinoflagellate cysts (Dale 2009, 2001,1999, 1996). In 2004 the American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists awarded Barrie the Medal of Scientific Excellence for his seminal contributions to dinoflagellate cyst biology and ecology, and applications of this research to the fossil record. More importantly to the HAB community we would like to see him honoured with the Yasumoto Lifetime Achievement Award from ISSHA for both his remarkable cross over contributions to our field and for his sustained efforts to serve the Society. He has been an advisor to many of the International HAB Conferences, starting with the 2nd Toxic Dinoflagellate Conference in Florida 1978 and much of the success of the recent ISSHA auctions is attributed to his provocative, unconventional humor. Barrie, full of energy and enthusiasm and with a twinkle in his eye and a rakish smile has charmed us and cajoled prodigious sums of cash from our pockets to fund student travel awards. His congenial but “crusty” personality inspires students to learn more about HABs and the geological world while at the same time challenging his peers to keep their work honest and of the highest quality. Honesty is an intrinsic property of Barrie as a scientist and as a human being; he is “on the right side of science”, and inspires us all. (Nomination letter submitted to ISSHA’s Awards Committee by Pat Tester, Ana Amorim & Wayne Litaker).

Prof. Yasuwo Fukuyo

Yasuwo Fukuyo receives his prize, a Takayama carving of a dividing pair of Dinophysis fortii, with the smiling approval of Prof. Yasumoto.

I first had the good fortune to meet Yasuwo Fukuyo in Key Biscayne, Florida, in 1978, at the second conference on Toxic Dinoflagellate Blooms. That was in the golden days of apical pores, when the systematics of microalgae was still based mainly on morphological criteria. His interest in dinoflagellates had been sparked by PSP events in Ofunato Bay in the 1960s and 1970s, which had been tentatively attributed to a ‘Gonyaulax’ species, and reinforced by the famous 17th century text Dai Nippon Shi (The History of Great Japan), which records red tides associated with human and fish mortalities as far back as the Eighth Century.

Yasuwo was born in 1948. With Degrees from Tokyo University in his pocket, he joined the School of Fisheries Sciences, Kitasato University for eight years, before returning to Tokyo University. He is currently director of the Asian Natural Environmental Science Center (ANESC). As well his morphological and systematic studies of dinoflagellates based on both on their thecae and cysts, Yasuwo has contributed to our knowledge of algal toxins, PSP, DSP, ciguatera, ASP, eutrophication and quality of coastal waters, and problems of ballast water management, and has spread HAB science round three quarters of the world. Joint research ventures have kept him very busy flying around the world and contacting a large list of scientific collaborators. All the important discoveries of the late 1970's in Japan required teamwork (chemists, taxonomists, toxicologists..). Yasuwo was the taxonomist who guarantied the proper identification of the causative agents of these events, for example: i) identification of Dinophysis fortii as the causative agent of DSP (Yasumoto et al. 1980); ii) identification of the causative agent of ciguatera, and description of the new species Gambierdiscus toxicus, etc.

Yasuwo is no ivory tower taxonomist secluded in a room with his microscope, but continuously interacts with chemists, field workers, and resource managers. These advances in Japan were soon recognized as advances for the whole world. But the basic science is only one facet of Yasuwo’s contribution to our field. He is also a “roving professor”, worthy successor to Aristotle’s followers who became peripatoi and walked about the world to teach others. But the world is bigger than Ancient Greece, and flying has taken the place of walking. His curriculum bears some resemblance to a gazetteer, and he must have a record-breaking number of ‘frequent flyer miles’ to his credit. According to many who have attended one or more of his innumerable courses in diverse lands, he is without match as a teacher. His miming of living cells and their flagellar activities is unforgettable. Not to mention the hilarious introduction of himself before starting a talk: “Please be careful when pronouncing my family name. My name is Fukuyo, but you can call me Yas ". He used to say that when he retired: "I will drive a public vehicle, a jeepney in Manila”. Maybe he has changed his mind.

In between research and teaching, Yasuwo is a key figure in the organization of many conferences and workshops, presents papers at them, chairs sessions; he has of course been a regular fixture at all the conferences in the Toxic Algae series since his debut in 1978, at the IOC-WESTPAC Scientific Symposia on Marine Science, at the International Conferences on Molluscan Shellfish Safety, at meetings of the Asian Fisheries Forum, meetings of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES), International Conferences on Ballast Water Management, Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) Meetings of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as well as their Intersessional Meetings, and the Diplomatic Conference on the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast water and Sediment. He also plays a leading role in guiding the design of the IOC SCOR Workshops on Programme Development for Harmful Algal Blooms, the Global Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms project (GEOHAB), Regional Symposia on the Prevention and Management of Harmful Algal Blooms in the South China Sea, the Japanese Society for Promotion of Science, and as Japan’s delegate to the Intergovernmental Panel meetings on Harmful Algal Blooms (IPHAB), IOC Executive Committee, and IOC Sub-Commission meetings for the Western Pacific.

Yasuwo seems to have a rugged constitution (airport food anyone?), and unlimited energy supplies, is friendly, outgoing, a valuable collaborator in research groups, monitoring centres and food safety agencies, and has an infectious sense of humour. Many HAB scientists worldwide use his beautifully presented images of algae, which he distributes freely to all. His generosity is legendary. Yasuwo has devoted more than thirty years to harmful algae science and education, and we propose him for the Yasumoto Lifetime Achievement Award.

Yasuwo has been indefatigable in his efforts at all levels of activity - research, teaching, public outreach, consensus building, alerting nations and regional commissions of the need to establish Harmful Algal Bloom initiatives to protect public health, seafood safety, natural resources, and then energizing those initiatives. There is no one in the harmful algal bloom research community who has not benefited greatly from his remarkable and continuous contributions to harmful algal bloom research, pedagogy and public service sustained over three decades of truly outstanding contributions.

(From nomination letter submitted by Masaaki KODAMA, Kazumi MATSUOKA, ZHOU Ming Jiang, YAN Tian, Marta ESTRADA, Monica LION, Ian JENKINSON, Ted SMAYDA, Rhodora AZANZA, and Timothy WYATT).

Jillian Johnson. Best oral presentation.

Jillian G. Johnson (NOAA, South Carolina, USA) was awarded the Maureen Keller Best Student Oral Presentation for her talk on "Global Analysis of Growth Phase - Associated Transcriptomes in the Toxic Dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis". This work was conducted together with Jeanine Morey, Marion Beal, James Ryan, and her advisor Fran Van Dolah in the Marine Biotoxins Program at NOAA's National Ocean Service, Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research Laboratory as part of her PhD dissertation at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in the Marine Biomedicine and Environmental Studies Program. Jillian's research focuses on the molecular mechanisms that regulate chronological aging and programmed cell death in the Florida Red Tide dinoflagellate, K. brevis. She is also a NOAA Oceans and Human Health Pre-Doctoral Fellow which has given her the opportunity to develop a Summer Undergraduate Research Program for Minority Students in Oceans and Human Health at MUSC. Jillian intends to continue pursuing her passion for teaching while conducting molecular research aimed to gain a better understanding of the interface between environmental and human health.

Lasse Nielsen. Second Best oral

Lasse Tor Nielsen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) received the Maureen Keller Honorable Mention for Students Oral Presentation for his talk on “Coastal plankton communities appear resilient to year 2100 CO2 and pH changes: Evidence from microcosm studies”. Co-authors were Hans Henrik Jakobsen, Gustaaf Hallegraeff, Simon W. Wright and Per Juel Hansen. Lasse holds a Master’s degree in science from the biology department of the University of Copenhagen. The last few years were spent specializing in marine planktonic protists at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Helsinør and at the University of Tasmania in Hobart. Currently he is doing a Ph.D. (under the supervision of Per Juel Hansen) on Dinophysis toxicity and DSP toxin fate in shell fish – work that involves keeping several Dinophysis species in culture. In the future hopes are to get a postdoc somewhere in the field of aquatic sciences – perhaps again within the field of ISSHA. Lasse has two children and spends his spare time playing volleyball, fishing and traveling.

Victoria Hewlett. Best poster.

Victoria Hewlett (University of Western Ontario, Canada) received the Maureen Keller Bester Student Poster award for her contribution on “A comparison of nutrient effect on haemolytic activity produced by harmful algal bloom species” (Victoria Hewlett, Premlata Kshatriya and Charles Trick). Currently, she is about to complete her M.Sc. at The University of Western Ontario with Dr. Charles Trick. Her research includes understanding what nutrient conditions induce algal toxicity of the dinoflagellate, Heterocapsa pygmaeaand of the raphidophyte, Heterosigma akashiwo. She has a strong interest in discovering the mystery of harmful algal toxic mechanisms and is currently involved in isolating various toxic components. Outside of work, she loves travel and spend time with friends and family. In retrospect, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to attend the 14th ICHA conference and to be a part of such an amazing research community.

Heidi Hällfors. Second best poster.

Heidi Hällfors (Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki) received the Maureen Keller 2nd Best Student Poster Award for her work titled "The Baltic Sea phytoplankton community at the beginning and end of the 20th century – a comparison of historical and modern species data", co-authored by Hermanni Backer, Juha-Markku Leppänen, Seija Hällfors and Guy Hällfors. Heidi holds a M.Sc. degree from the University of Helsinki and is currently working toward her Ph.D. degree at the Marine Research Centre of the Finnish Environment Institute in Helsinki. Her PhD thesis research, supervised by Professor Harri Kuosa, focuses on the ecology and distribution of dinoflagellates in the Baltic Sea, covering several aspects from long-term data comparisons, such as in the present poster, to vertical distribution of certain taxa. Besides working on her Ph.D. thesis, Heidi has gained working experience within the Algaline phytoplankton monitoring programme, in projects investigating phytoplankton eutrophication indicators and Baltic Sea ecosystem services, and also as a lecturer on international phytoplankton courses.