Elena Litchman wins prestigious Excellence Professorship award

Published March 7, 2017

Elena Litchman

Elena Litchman, Michigan State University Foundation Professor of integrative biology, is the recipient of an Excellence Professorship award from the Professor Dr. Werner – Petersen Foundation based in Kiel, Germany.

This prestigious award is given to leading international scientists for excellence in their particular field. The foundation is honoring Litchman for her outstanding accomplishments in the field of community and ecosystem ecology.

"The news of the award was both surprising and exciting," Litchman said. "It is a wonderful recognition of my research that stimulates me to tackle novel questions in community ecology of phytoplankton.”

Litchman, who is also a professor at MSU's W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, is internationally renowned for her research on phytoplankton communities.  Her research focuses on community ecology of marine and freshwater algae and cyanobacteria, including the ecological and evolutionary responses of these organisms to global change. She is the lead principal investigator on a recently awarded $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Dimensions of Biodiversity program to investigate how the diversity of phytoplankton will respond to ocean warming.

“It’s exciting to see Elena recognized for her cutting-edge work on how differences in traits among algae affect their coexistence–and how this may be changing," said Kay Gross, director of the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station. "Elena is passionate about algae and has had the opportunity to study them around the world.”

“It is nice to see Elena and her pioneering research, linking global changes in community and ecosystem ecology to the evolving traits of tiny planktonic individuals, getting the global recognition it deserves,” added Tom Getty, Department of Integrative Biology chair in the College of Natural Science.

As part of the Excellence Professorship Award, Litchman has been invited to the GEOMAR Institute in Kiel this summer to collaborate with GEOMAR researchers, deliver a public lecture and teach a short graduate-level course. The award also includes a monetary prize of 20,000 Euros.