Jack J. Middelburg
The 2017 Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky Medal is awarded to Jack J. Middelburg for his seminal contributions to biogeosciences, linking macrofaunal ecology and biogeochemical processes.
Jack Middelburg is Chair in Geochemistry at the Department of Earth Sciences of Utrecht University. After obtaining a PhD from Utrecht University (Netherlands) in Geochemistry and Oceanography in 1990, he held research positions with the Technical University of Delft and the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, was Head of the Department of Ecosystem Studies of the latter institution, and was Adjunct Professor of Ghent University (Belgium) and Utrecht University. Middelburg received the PIONIER award of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research in 2002, the Eur-Oceans Roland Wollast Award in 2008, and the ASLO G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award in 2016, and was elected to the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in 2008. Middelburg has pioneered the development of biogeochemical models by introducing the reactive continuum concept for organic matter decomposition in marine systems; a concept that accurately depicts the role of age and quality of organic matter in the course of its degradation. His research was instrumental in the conceptualisation of stable isotopes as deliberate tracers of carbon and nitrogen flows in ecosystems. Stable isotope-labeling experiments are now common tools in Ecology and Geomicrobiology. He has developed new approaches to characterise the role of benthic animals as ecosystem engineers, looking, for example, at the effects of sediment bioturbation during the Cambrian explosion. Middelburg has published more than 300 scientific papers and has an exemplary citation record. He was recognised as a “Highly Cited Scientist” by ISI in 2013. In addition to leading the field of biogeochemistry, Middelburg has served the community in many ways. He was Scientific Director of the Darwin Centre for Biogeosciences, was Chair of NWOs Marine and Coastal Research Program, has served on many Scientific Advisory Boards, as editor for many scientific journals, including EGU’s Biogeosciences, and was Secretary of EGU’s Marine Biogeoscience section. Middleburg has been an outstanding mentor of the Biogeosciences community through scientific innovation, scientific coordination and integration, generous sharing of ideas, and guidance of early career researchers.