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Scientists Hofmann and Mopper Elected AGU Fellows

head and shoulders photo of ODU scientist HofmannEileen Hofmann head and shoulders photo of ODU scientist MopperKenneth Mopper

Two Old Dominion University scientists have been elected Fellows of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), an honor bestowed each year upon no more than 0.1 percent of the union's international membership of some 62,000.

Eileen Hofmann, professor of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences and a researcher with ODU's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography (CCPO), and Kenneth Mopper, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, were elected to the 2013 class of Fellows by a selection committee that received 103 nominations for final consideration. Sixty-two Fellows were chosen.

ODU was one of only five universities with two or more faculty members elected.

"We are proud of the accomplishments of these two ODU scientists and of their recognition by the American Geophysical Union," said Chris Platsoucas, dean of the College of Sciences. "Only a very small percentage of members of professional organizations are chosen to be Fellows, so this is a high honor."

Hofmann, who received a Ph.D. in physical oceanography from North Carolina State University, was the 1996 recipient of ODU's annual Research Award and the 2011 recipient of the College of Science's Distinguished Research Award. She has been involved in numerous projects that explore the relationship between physical ocean characteristics-such as currents or water temperature-and marine life. This has thrust her into leading roles in oceanographic initiatives worldwide, some of which coordinate research focused on global warming and climate change.

She has been recognized with research grants and research appointments for her work on coupled physical-biological models, and she has built a special focus on Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Her research interests cover a variety of topics, which range from mathematical modeling of marine ecosystems to descriptive physical oceanography.

For the 15 years ending in 2008, Hofmann was involved with the Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC) program, which studied global-change issues related to the marine food web, and served as chair of the Southern Ocean GLOBEC Program. More recently, she has served as chair of the Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research Program of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program.

Her research interests, in addition to physical-biological interactions, include climate control of diseases of marine shellfish. At ODU's CCPO, she recently was involved in several projects with global-change emphasis. One was a $1 million National Science Foundation project that took an exhaustive look at one scenario posed by global warming. The study, which involved not only oceanographers and biologists, but also experts in social behavior, politics and economics, focused on the surf clam fisheries on the upper East Coast of the United States, and how global warming could change the lives of the people who have an interest in our ability to bring these bivalves to market.

Hofmann has served on several National Research Council committees, the most recent being the Polar Research Board. She currently serves on the editorial boards for the Journal of Marine Research and Antarctic Science, and is co-editor in chief for the Journal of Marine Systems. She co-edited the book "Foundations for Ecological Research West of the Antarctic Peninsula," which is part of the AGU Antarctic Research Series.

Mopper, whose Ph.D. in chemical oceanography is from MIT's Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, joined ODU in 2001 as an expert in analytical and environmental chemistry. In addition to being a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, he is an adjunct professor of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences.

Over the past four decades, Mopper has become well known in his field for developing innovative techniques for the analysis of biologically important organic compounds, dissolved organic carbon and photochemically formed chemical species in natural waters. Wrote one NOAA scientist in nominating Mopper for AGU Fellow: "Many of these (innovations) had a transformative influence on our understanding of the processes that regulate the production, cycling and degradation of organic compounds in the sea and fresh waters."

One of his innovations is credited with streamlining and greatly improving shipboard analysis of trace organics in seawater. (Water samples from the ocean present analytic challenges due to the water's low analyte concentrations and high salt content.) This allowed the conduct of at-sea experiments and helped guide at-sea sampling and analytical strategies that led to important biogeochemical discoveries.

Early in Mopper's career he developed a method that enabled scientists to make the first shipboard measurements of dissolved amino acids in seawater and do the first real-time analyses of spatial and temporal variations in these compounds in the water column. To date, the pioneering paper he co-authored describing this method has been cited 1,558 times.

Of his 100 peer-reviewed papers, 47 percent have been highly cited, six of them more than 300 times.

Mopper received the Antarctic Service Medal for Scientific Achievement in 1995 from the National Science Foundation and the Department of the Navy. The Ray Lankester Investigatorship Award was given to him in 1999 by the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom.