JoAnn Burkholder, a co-discoverer and preeminent authority on Pfiesteria piscicida, was named the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's 1997 Conservationist of the Year.

Burkholder, an associate professor of aquatic botany and marine science at North Carolina State University, was recognized for her invaluable efforts to help watermen, scientists, state and federal authorities, and environmental groups better understand and respond to the pfiesteria threat in the Chesapeake Bay.

"Dr. Burkholder is the first individual from outside the Chesapeake Bay watershed to receive the award, which demonstrates how the impact of her work transcends the North Carolina region," said Michael Hirshfield, CBF's vice president for resource protection. "Quite simply, if it were not for Dr. Burkholder, Maryland would not be responding to the pfiesteria problem as effectively today as it is."

Since co-discovering pfiesteria in 1991, Burkholder has worked to understand and explain how the microbe functions, its impact on aquatic and human health, and the underlying reasons for its aggressive and deadly appearances in the coastal waters of North Carolina and the Chesapeake Bay.

Chesapeake Bay Trust Ellen Fraites Wagner Award

Maryland's Chesapeake Bay Trust recently presented the first Ellen Fraites Wagner Award to former state Senator Bernie Fowler.

"Bernie's love and leadership for the Chesapeake has influenced thousands of people and activities," said former Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes, a member of the Chesapeake Bay Trust's board. "He exemplifies the mission of the Chesapeake Bay Trust - promoting public awareness and involvement in the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay."

A lifelong resident of Calvert County, Fowler has led efforts to restore the Bay as a waterman, county commissioner, and state senator. He has chaired the Patuxent River Commission and led the development of Patuxent River Policy, and has served on the Chesapeake Bay Commission, Chesapeake Bay Program, the Oyster Recovery Program and the Hughes Commission. Fowler is perhaps best known for the Annual Bernie Fowler Wade In and Sneaker Index, a June ritual in which he wades into the Patuxent River off Broome's Island to see how deep his sneakers will still be visible. This popular gauge of Bay health has caught the public's attention nationwide and has focused that attention on Marylanders' shared responsibility in taking care of the Chesapeake.

Named in honor of the Hughes administration staffer who came up with the idea for the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Ellen Fraites Wagner Award is a bronze statue of a Blue Heron, the CBT logo. Established by the General Assembly of Maryland in 1985, the Chesapeake Bay Trust is a private, nonprofit grant-making foundation. The trust is funded through tax checkoffs and sales of the "Treasure the Chesapeake" license plate.

Mathias Medal

For his long years of studying and helping to spread knowledge about the biology of the Chesapeake Bay, William Hargis Jr. was awarded the Mathias Medal last fall by Virginia Sea Grant, Maryland Sea Grant and the Chesapeake Research Consortium.

A lifelong resident of the Chesapeake Bay area, Hargis has worked for nearly 40 years to promote the study of marine sciences in Virginia. He served as director of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science for 22 years, during which time he greatly increased student enrollment and personnel. He changed the nature of the institute from a fisheries science laboratory to a multidisciplinary program. He recruited scientists in the fields of chemical, physical and geological oceanography, engineering, environmental science and microbiology-pathobiology.

He also served on innumerable state, regional, national and international boards, advisory councils and task forces which established new policies, studies and institutions to work with marine science.

The Mathias Medal is named for now-retired U.S. Senator Charles "Mac" Mathias who is considered the "father" of the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort. The award was developed to recognize scientists who apply their expertise for the public good and who delve into practical policy issues.

Sea Grant is founded on the principle that providing scientifically based information to solve marine issues in a public way is essential to the health of our industries, our coastlines and the education of our people.