MEET THE ISDR COUNCIL
Meet the ISDR Council - we
will present you every month somebody else from the current ISDR
council . The council members will write small blog posts about
themselves including their role in the ISDR and their personal research interessts
In January 2018 we would like to present you
Jordan, ISDR Vice President
My first encounter with diatoms was probably in an algology practical class, when I was a 2nd year student at the University of Surrey in Guildford (UK), where my personal tutor was Maurice Moss and my thesis supervisor was Tony Chamberlain –both wrote papers on diatoms, with Maurice being a keen microscopist, and Tony working on biofouling. Through Maurice and Tony, I became a regular participant of the British Diatomist meetings in the 1980s. Reading Hannah’s ‘British Diatom Meeting 2017’ report shows how surprisingly little has changed: “To present and discuss your research in such a warm atmosphere” and “in a place in the middle of nowhere”. It brought back fond memories ... and makes me want to attend one again. It was also during my time at Guildford that I became interested in the scanning electron microscope – a love that continues today. My undergraduate thesis was entitled “Cytochemical and Ultrastructural Studies of Freshwater Diatom Attachment”, and involved Alcian blue/Alcian yellow staining, LM, SEM, TEM, and a whirlimixer !!
My first real job was at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in Cambridge, where I worked as a micropalaeontologist, studying Quaternary diatoms in Southern Ocean sediments. While at BAS, Julian Priddle introduced me to the marine genera, Rhizosolenia and Proboscia – which resulted in a series of papers, particularly in collaboration with Ryszard Ligowski. Although, reluctantly, I left BAS after only three years, my connection to polar diatoms is still strong, and I am a long-standing participant of the polar diatom colloquia and workshops (see http://www.polarmarinediatomworkshop.org/). To zoom forward, I have now spent 25 years in Japan, in Yamagata University, where my students work on diatom taxonomy, evolution and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. Gone are those halcyon days with wet film and enlargers in darkrooms, letter set transfers on plates, and knobs and buttons on the SEM – now the young diatomist works almost entirely in digital. Even books and reprints have been largely replaced by pdfs – perhaps I am too old-fashioned, but, unlike my students, I still like to peruse the hard copies and potter about in my personal library.
I have forgotten when I first joined the ISDR, but perhaps it was in the late 1980s, when I was regularly attending the British Diatomists’ meetings and the British Phycological Society winter meetings. My first IDS was Tokyo 1996 – which was overshadowed by the sudden death of the symposium host, Professor Hiromu Kobayasi, who was also the ISDR Vice President at the time. However, it was a great meeting and I participated in both the mid- and post-conference excursions; I remember my Masters student Masamichi Shiono (of Shionodiscus fame) gave a poster presentation on freshwater diatom assemblages in lake sediments around the volcano, Mount Bandai. Since then I have attended most of the IDS (missing only Croatia and the USA), and later served on the Council from 2000-2002.
After more than 200 years of diatom research, there are still plenty of opportunities for young diatomists to make a name for themselves. Despite a plethora of papers on floristics and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction, we really know so little about diatom ecology. For instance, there is a paucity of data on diatom assemblage changes in nearshore-offshore transects, multi-year records from the same station, or vertical distribution (e.g., from surf to shade flora). Unlike many other plankton groups, we still have no biogeographic zonation scheme for marine diatoms, and our knowledge of the assemblages from some habitats (e.g., mangroves, marine lakes) and on certain life styles (e.g., as epizoic diatoms, endosymbionts) is still very poor.
As the Berlin meeting (and the start of my presidency) approaches, I’d like to think that young diatomists will be strongly motivated, not just to look for new challenges in diatom research, but also to compile reliable ecological datasets that will allow us to use diatoms as environmental proxies with more confidence. Then, perhaps, the importance of diatoms in applied biology and micropalaeontology will be finally realised.
In December 2017 we would like to present you
Mark Edlund, ISDR President
In first grade, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I confidently said (and correctly spelled)—scientist! Not a fireman, not an astronaut, but a scientist. Some amazing parents, a science aunt, and a few influential teachers kept me on that path. I finally met my first diatom as a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, but it was Prof. David Czarnecki’s Freshwater Algae class at Itasca Biology Station that made me realize that something as small, but as globally important as diatoms, could be the focus of my work.
My name is Mark Edlund, and I am the current president of the ISDR. I joined the ISDR in 1987—as a young diatomist-in-training under Dr. Gene Stoermer—following some face-to-face encouragement from Dr. Frank Round, current ISDR president at the time. For me the ISDR serves as a professional home—I’ve attended almost every IDS meeting since 1990, served on the ISDR Council, been on the Editorial Board of Diatom Research since 2006, published in Diatom Research, co-organized the 21st IDS, and was elected President in 2016. My role of president involves coordinating Council on any decisions regarding the society, working to make sure our biannual symposium finds a host and is well organized, and working with society matters and meetings at and between our symposia.
In my day job, I’m a Senior Scientist at the St. Croix Watershed Research Station, an environmental research station of the Science Museum of Minnesota. I also have adjunct academic appointments at the University of Minnesota and the University of Iowa that allow me to work with graduate students and teach the annual Ecology and Systematics of Diatoms at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. My research on diatoms has centered on three broad areas. Life histories have long attracted my research efforts, from the cytology and mechanics of sexual reproduction, life history adaptations, to how the diatom life history influences ecology. Diatoms are also excellent ecological and paleoecological indicators, and my work has addressed lake nutrient criteria, management targets, anthropogenic and climate response, and landscape evolution. Finally, large and ancient lakescapes present unique ecological settings for diatom diversity, but also are some of the most sensitive to environmental change. Taxonomy bridges all of these areas and I am a contributor and on the Editorial Review Board of the important web site DOTUS—Diatomsof the United States.
I’ve happily watched the ISDR evolve to become today’s society serving the needs of the world’s diatomist community. Our journal has moved to a major publisher, larger format, with a significant increase in impact factor. We’ve worked to establish a stronger presence on the web and social media, and most importantly a group of young diatomists has taken up the torch to ensure that the society and diatom research has a strong future. You can read a short history of the society and symposia at: https://biotaxa.org/Phytotaxa/article/view/phytotaxa.127.1.4