Lifetime Achievement Awards

No organization makes it to 100 years without the help of some truly extraordinary people. That’s why, as part of Trout Lake Station’s LimnoCentennial celebration, current station scientists decided to celebrate the “lifetime achievements” of some of the retired researchers who made the last few decades memorable.

Here are the winners and the award announcements written by their colleagues:

The Root of Knowledge (by Gretchen Gerrish)

Whether perennially steadfast, deeply set, or expanding through all depths of the water column, Susan Knight receives the Root of Knowledge award for her continuous efforts, regardless of staunch resistance by many, to promote and instill the love and intrigue of aquatic plants into as many scientists as possible.

If you have ever had the privilege of riding along with Susan in a boat doing rake surveys or collecting aquatic plants, then you are the lucky few who have first-hand participated in the enthusiastic and ever inspiring tutelage of Susan in her true element!

If you have ever been looking for something at TLS: equipment, a nearby lake, a reference paper, or just a listening ear and Susan Knight readily jumped in to help, you know!

The Root of Knowledge award not only recognizes Susan’s passionate expansion of plant knowledge but also acknowledges her continuous leadership and supportive presence at TLS. Since 1981, Susan has worked with the WI Dept. of Natural Resources (WI DNR) and UW-Madison in both lead and support positions as she drove initiatives and trained many people in her humble, engaged, and extremely generous ways. She has impacted generations of researchers and students that have passed through TLS, and keeps us rooted in the local community and moral responsibilities of our research.

The Ice King (by Noah Lottig)

As we celebrate 100 amazing years of Trout Lake Station (TLS), we have a very special award to present to someone who has literally put the ‘cool’ in cool science – a true legend in the world of limnology, the man who knows more about ice than any of us have ever slipped on – John Magnuson!

Even in his younger days, John took a large and long visionary approach to his work and thinking with The Invisible Present, which has been cited over 600 times. In total, John’s professional works have been cited almost 26,000 times, and his seminal work on long-term ice trends nearly 1,600 times. Beyond his contributions to science, one of the best gifts to all of us is the initiation and development of the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program here in Wisconsin and at TLS.

John has shown us how ice can tell stories about ourselves, our climate, and our planet. He spent decades teaching us that the freeze and thaw of our lakes isn’t just a seasonal cycle, but a window into the health of our environment.

While acknowledging John as the Ice King, we can’t overlook his warm heart. Over the years, John has worked with generations of graduate students and built connections that have endured. He and his wife Norma were always hosting meals and gatherings for his students and the Center for Limnology community. They welcomed folks into their homes and lives as family, not just work colleagues.

It is our absolute pleasure to crown John as the ‘Ice King’ – a fun and frosty title that is a tribute to his incredible contributions to understanding the icy secrets of our lakes and rivers.

Lifetime Broken Prop Achievement Award (by Carol Warden)

Much like the old adage that there’s a fine line between genius and insanity, there’s also a fine line between being a MacGyver and a MacGruber. One Trout Lake alum rode this line better than anyone else.

Colleagues working with this individual have experienced first-hand the flooding of boats, the failing of gear, the breaking of propellers. To be fair, there have also been plenty of first-hand accounts of this person saving them in the field with some MacGyvered repair using a paper clip or ballpoint pen.

This individual shows up on the annual Broken Prop Awards board a whopping four times throughout his TLS tenure, twice as much as anyone else. And at least one of these incidents was literally because of a broken prop. Yes, even with more than 30 years of familiarity with Trout Lake and her rockbars, he struck one during macrophyte surveys in 2013 and sheared one of the three propellers clean off.

This person once told me, “Carol, your job is to teach people how to be scientists.” I realized, without a doubt, that this includes teaching people how to be resourceful in any circumstance. Field work is unpredictable and challenging and often requires extraordinary innovation.

For thirty-five years, no one was more creative with field gear than Tim Meinke. For all his MacGyvering and MacGrubering, we offer the Lifetime Broken Prop Achievement Award to thank him for teaching us all what is possible with a paperclip and a ballpoint pen.