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Oceanographer Kenneth Bruland honored by two major scientific organizations

By Tim Stephens

Kenneth Bruland, professor and chair of ocean sciences, has received two major honors this year: He was elected as a 2005 fellow of the American Geophysical Union and was chosen to receive the 2005 Clair C. Patterson Medal for Environmental Chemistry from the Geochemical Society.

Ken Bruland

Bruland currently holds the Ida Benson Lynn Endowed Chair in Ocean Health at UCSC. He is an expert on ocean chemistry and the ways in which certain trace elements influence marine ecosystems. Much of his research has focused on the role of trace metals in the growth of phytoplankton, microscopic algae that form the base of marine food webs.

Election as a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) recognizes scientists who have attained acknowledged eminence in one or more branches of geophysics and is one of the few honors that the group confers. The AGU limits the number of fellows elected each year to no more than a tenth of a percent of its membership. Bruland's election recognizes his lifetime achievements in the area of chemical oceanography. The award will be presented at the AGU's spring meeting in New Orleans in May.

The Geochemical Society's Patterson Medal is awarded to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the field of environmental geochemistry. The medal recognizes Bruland's record of highly significant contributions to the field of trace-metal biogeochemistry. It will be presented at the Goldschmidt Conference, the premier annual meeting in geochemistry and mineralogy, in Moscow, Idaho, in May.

Bruland and his students have pioneered the development of clean sampling and analytical methods for the determination of trace metals (and metalloids) in natural waters. His research group has also pioneered the development of analytical methods for the determination of the chemical form or speciation of metals, in particular the degree to which metals such as iron, copper, zinc, cadmium, and cobalt bind to organic compounds in seawater.

Bruland has played a central role in studies of iron as a limiting nutrient in large portions of the Earth's oceans. He has been the chief scientist of major oceanographic research expeditions studying the role of iron as a limiting nutrient, most recently to the Bering Sea and the Peru upwelling regime. In addition to his studies of metals as limiting nutrients, Bruland has also pioneered research on toxic metals in both freshwater and coastal environments. This work includes research on the chemical speciation of selenium, arsenic, mercury, and lead.

Bruland has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, which have had a demonstrable impact on his field. He is listed among the select group of "Highly Cited Scientists" identified by ISI, a company that specializes in analyzing the scientific literature. ISI compiles lists of the authors whose work is most frequently cited by other researchers. ISI's Highly Cited Scientists represent less than one-half of one percent of all publishing researchers.

Bruland joined the UCSC faculty in 1974. He received the Outstanding Faculty Award in 2001-02 from the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences. Bruland earned his B.A. in chemistry from Western Washington University and his Ph.D. in oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

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