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October 26, 2006

MBL Scientists Receive Fulbright Fellowships,
Will Study Effects of Amazon Deforestation

Click on thumbnails for high-resolution images.

Chris Neill

Chris Neill
Credit: Tom Kleindinst

Linda Deegan

Linda Deegan
Credit: Tom Kleindinst

Neill and Deegan

Neill and Deegan in Brazil
Credit: Christie Haupert

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA—MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) scientists Linda A. Deegan and Christopher Neill of The Ecosystems Center have been selected as Fulbright Scholars to visit Brazil in 2007. Deegan and Neill are two of approximately 800 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad to some 150 countries for the 2006-2007 academic year through the Fulbright Scholar Program. Established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the program’s purpose is to build mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries.

Deegan and Neill will spend January through May 2007 with the "Ecologia Isotópica" (Ecological Isotope) group at the Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura (Center for Nuclear Energy in Agriculture) at the campus of the University of São Paulo (USP), in Piracicaba, in the Brazilian State of São Paulo. Piracicaba is a small city of about 300,000 people located about two hours northwest of the city of São Paulo. The fellowships are co-sponsored by the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars in the U.S. and by the Research Foundation of the State of São Paulo (FAPESP).

In Piracicaba, Deegan will investigate the role of Amazon deforestation in altering the composition and diversity of stream insects and fishes. Neill will work with aquatic chemists at USP to use stream chemistry to trace the sources of water to small Amazon streams in forested and deforested regions. Deegan and Neill have been collaborating with CENA researchers Reynaldo Victoria, Alex Krusche, and Victoria Ballester since 1996.

“The MBL congratulates Linda and Chris on this important achievement,” said Gary Borisy, MBL Director and CEO. “Through their participation in the Fulbright Scholar Program, they are joining a cadre of men and women who are helping to shape our world through their collaboration with colleagues from other nations. Their research, and that of their Ecosystems Center colleagues, is vital to laying down a foundation for environmental protection in Brazil’s changing ecological landscape.”

The Fulbright Program, America’s flagship international educational exchange activity, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Over its 59 years of existence, thousands of U.S. faculty and professionals have studied, taught, or done research abroad, and thousands of their counterparts from other countries have engaged in similar activities in the United States.

Recipients of Fulbright Scholar awards are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement and because they have demonstrated extraordinary leadership potential in their fields. Among thousands of prominent U.S. Fulbright Scholar alumni are James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA and Nobel Laureate in Medicine; Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet; and Craig Barrett, CEO of Intel Corporation.

At the MBL, Deegan works on marine and freshwater ecosystems, with a special interest in fishes. She received her Ph.D. in Marine Science from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, in 1985. She joined the staff of the Ecosystems Center in 1989. In 2004, as part of the new MBL program with Brown University, she was appointed Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Natural Resource Conservation and Management, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she worked prior to joining the MBL.

Neill is an associate scientist at the MBL’s Ecosystems Center. His research focuses on understanding how changes in land use and other human activities alter the structure of ecosystems and the ways that nutrients cycle in soils and move from soils to adjacent water bodies. He has been working in the Brazilian Amazon since 1992, where he investigates how deforestation alters the emissions of greenhouse gases from soils and how deforestation of upland forests affects the ecology of small Amazonian streams and rivers. Neill received his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1992. He joined the MBL as a post-doctoral research associate in 1991.

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The MBL is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Western Hemisphere. For more information, visit www.MBL.edu