Creative Research Medal in Natural Sciences and Engineering 2018
Amy Rosemond, professor of ecology, is known for her groundbreaking studies of the effects of excess nutrients on freshwater ecosystem processes, including those across land-water boundaries. She was one of the first ecologists to predict that increased nutrient loads could have substantial effects on stream ecosystems beyond algal blooms and include effects on detrital pathways. Her experimental studies tested how elevated nutrients altered rates of detrital processing and affected energy flow in southeastern U.S. forested headwater streams. The studies revealed accelerated losses of detritus and profound changes to stream and stream-forest food web interactions. Rosemond’s whole-stream manipulations are unprecedented both spatially and temporally, offering insights that would not have been possible with experiments at smaller scales. Her work has practical applications, having been cited by the Environmental Protection Agency as evidence for the need to control both nitrogen and phosphorus in freshwater ecosystems, and provides insights into whole-ecosystem effects of nutrient pollution.