The 2012 Arne Richter Awards for Outstanding Young Scientists is awarded to Stephanie Henson for her fundamental contribution to the study of marine ecosystems.
Stephanie Henson’s work has largely addressed questions of variability in marine ecosystems through the prism of remote sensing. Though this approach skims information from only the first few metres of the ocean, Henson’s work has exploited remote sensing’s spatio-temporal richness to tease out deeper biogeochemical truths. Across a series of papers written during her doctoral work and followed up in post-doctoral work in the United States, Henson has explored nutrient dynamics (GRL, 2003), bloom timing (JGR, 2007), phytoplankton dominance (MEPS, 2006) and export production (GRL, 2011). In a particularly significant recent paper (Biogeosciences, 2010), one in which she led an international group of fellow researchers, Henson applied her expertise with remote sensing techniques to model simulations to define when the effects of climate change may first be separated from background variability. As well as dealing directly with a topic of pivotal contemporary importance, this work successfully challenged the conclusions of earlier, high-profile research, and clearly demonstrates Henson’s scientific leadership. Aside from her research activities, Henson is already a lead-supervisor of doctoral students, an enthusiastic teacher and sea-going scientist, and a member of, and reviewer for, a number of scientific societies. In summary, Henson, only 6 years from completion of her Ph.D., and not yet 35 years old, is an outstanding young scientist working at the leading edge of marine biogeochemical research, and is producing results that cut to the heart of our understanding of how, and when, anthropogenic effects will perturb the Earth system.