The University Record, October 22, 1996

Vandermeer will receive Sokol Award, lecture on rainforests Oct. 28

John Vandermeer, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of biology, will receive the 1996-97 Margaret and Herman Sokol Faculty Award in the Sciences for his contributions to graduate education and research.

The award will be presented at a public lecture, "Maintenance of Biological Diversity in Neotropical Rainforests," to be given by Vandermeer at 4 p.m. Oct. 28 in the Rackham Amphitheatre.

Vandermeer, a faculty member since 1970, is renowned for his research in mathematical ecology, tropical ecology and agrosystems ecology. His teaching and research activities have been conducted throughout South and Central America, Mexico, and Southeast Asia.

Vandermeer conducts a research expedition to the Nicaraguan rain forest each year. Since 1989 he has included a small group of students from the University of Central America with a group of U-M students who take part in the trip. He has worked diligently with Central American scientists to convince them of the importance of ecology research in their region.

In addition to his varied research, Vandermeer teaches a diverse offering of classes to graduates and undergraduates in the School of Natural Resources, the International Institute and the Program in American Culture.

"John has made a major impact on undergraduate education, and particularly on undergraduate biology courses for non-majors," says Welsey M. Brown, chair of the Department of Biology. "His many contributions in that area were recognized by his being awarded an Alfred Thurnau Distinguished Professorship in 1994.

"I find the breadth and reach of John's activities to be formidable," he continues, "and his influence on research, on graduate students and on graduate education in areas both central and tangential to ecology has been and continues to be immense."

Administered by the Rackham School of Graduate Studies, the $25,000 Sokol Award is given annually to a tenured faculty member in astronomy, biology, chemistry, geological sciences, mathematics or physics.

Margaret Sokol and her late husband Herman, who graduate from the U-M in 1940 with a master's degree in chemistry, first established an annual fellowship for graduate students in chemistry in 1983. After Herman Sokol's death in 1985, Margaret Sokol established additional awards to assist graduate and undergraduate students, post-doctoral fellows and faculty in the sciences for research and teaching.