Two professors share environmental prize



After 42 years of friendship and collaboration, two Yale professors shared one more milestone Thursday when they received the 2003 Blue Planet Prize for environmental achievement.

Professor emeritus of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies F. Herbert Bormann and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology professor Gene E. Likens were lauded for developing the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study, the first long-term set of experiments on a whole forest ecosystem. Likens and Bormann will split a prize of 50 million Yen — about $450,000.

The Asahi Glass Foundation awards two Blue Planet Prizes each year to individuals or organizations dedicated to preserving the global environment. Vietnam National University professor Dr. Vo Quy received the second award for the environmental restoration projects he conducted in Vietnam after the Vietnam War.

While conducting research at Hubbard Brook, Bormann and Likens found correlations between fossil fuel emissions and the production of acid rain. Their findings led to congressional amendments to the 1990 Clean Air Act, increasing sulfur dioxide emission standards for American industries.

Last year, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies Dean Gustave Speth won the Blue Planet Prize for his leadership in bringing global attention to environmental threats.

“Herbert and his co-winner, Gene Likens, have really transformed ecology and have also been leaders in public policy debates,” said Speth. “Getting the award twice in a row has been very important in confirming that we are becoming the global school of the environment that we want to be.”

Environmental Studies major and Yale Student Environmental Coalition co-chair Linda Shi ’04 said she was happy to hear Yale professors had won the prize.

“Given that the Blue Planet Prize is one of the most prestigious in the area of the environment, it is a sign of the strength of the School of Forestry that Professor Bormann [was one of the professors who] won it this year, and [Speth] won it last year,” Shi said.

Bormann is donating a portion of his prize money to the New Haven-based Connecticut Fund for the Environment, or CFE, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

Linda Rapp, Development Director for CFE, said the organization hopes to spend Bormann’s gift toward ongoing environmental awareness programs including the Clean Cars Project and a Long Island Sound moratorium on cables and pipelines.

The Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest is located in a White Mountain National Forest reserve in New Hampshire.

Environmental Studies major Xizhou Zhou ’05 visited Hubbard Brook and planned to work there last summer.

“[It's] one of the most important ecological sites of the century,” said Zhou. “A lot of graphs and pictures in ecology textbooks nowadays actually originate from research done at Hubbard Brook.”

In commemoration of their achievement, Bormann and Lenkin are attending a week long series of ceremonies and press conferences in Japan.

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