CORVALLIS, Ore. - Kelly Benoit-Bird, an Oregon State University oceanographer who specializes in the study of marine ecological communities, has been named the 2008 recipient of the American Geophysical Union's Early Career Award for Ocean Science.

She will be honored at the organization's national meeting in San Francisco in December.

Benoit-Bird, an assistant professor in OSU's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, is the lone recipient of the 2008 award. The AGU's Early Career Award for Ocean Sciences honors a scientist who has made significant contributions to oceanographic sciences and shows a promising future. Recipients must have received their doctorate within the last eight years.

An OSU faculty member for the past four years, Benoit-Bird earned her doctorate in zoology from the University of Hawaii in 2003. She also is the recipient of the 2005 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award.

Benoit-Bird studies how different marine species from zooplankton to whales relate to each other in marine environments and throughout time. Her wide-ranging research includes projects on forage fish assemblages in the Bering Sea, unusual thin plankton layers, schooling of pelagic fish, jumbo squid in the Gulf of California, predation effects on zooplankton, foraging of dusky dolphins and sperm whale diets.

Much of her work utilizes sophisticated acoustic monitoring that allows her to track, for example, the balletic movements of foraging spinner dolphins at night when the use of cameras and lighting would be intrusive.

Her studies are funded by the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research and other organizations.

"Kelly is a superb scientist, teacher and colleague who already is making significant contributions in biological and ecological oceanography," said Mark Abbott, dean of OSU's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences. "She is rapidly becoming a leader on the national and international scene."

Benoit-Bird is the second OSU oceanographer to receive the prestigious AGU award. Andreas Schmittner, whose research focuses on ocean circulation and climate change, received the award in 2006.

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.


Kelly Benoit-Bird,