Gainesville, Fla. — The University of Florida awarded Katherine Ewel, a trailblazer in the wetland ecosystem science field, with a distinguished service award at the summer commencement ceremony on Saturday.
Ewel, who is currently retired, had a 35-year successful and impactful career at the University of Florida and United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Her efforts in the field have changed the way we fertilize pine plantations, harvest forested wetlands, treat wastewater from developed areas and protect the world’s last ka forest.
“Clearly, wetland science became more systems-oriented and empirical because of her work,” said Matthew Cohen, who first met Ewel as a graduate student and currently works as faculty in the UF/IFAS School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences. “But, as importantly, [the field] became more inclusive.”
After graduating with her doctorate in zoology from UF, Ewel became the first female faculty member in the school, and she was given emerita status in 2006. Throughout her career in academia and the USDA Forest Service, she co-authored 77 peer-reviewed journal articles, 35 book chapters, and several editorials, letters and other publications.
As senior scientist for the USDA Forest Service at the Pacific Southwest Research Station’s Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, Ewel helped
grow a small Sea Grant program into an award-winning program at the University of Hawai’i. The Pacific Internship Program for Exploring Science, as it is now called, funds summer internships related to environmental issues for native college students on their home islands.
“Dr. Ewel’s career has left a tremendous impact at every step,” said UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Dean Elaine Turner. “Her contributions to our management of forests have greatly enhanced the conservation and utilization of forests in the United States and Pacific Islands. We are proud that Dr. Ewel has such a strong connection to our college and are excited the university is recognizing her with this award.”
The Stephen C. O’Connell Distinguished Service Award recognizes alumni of UF who have distinguished themself through exceptional public service to the state of Florida or the nation at large. This may include service in elected or appointed public office, public or private education, judicial or law enforcement agencies, or any volunteer agency devoted to public welfare.
ABOUT THE UF/IFAS COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURAL AND LIFE SCIENCES
The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) administers the degree programs of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). The mission of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is to deliver unsurpassed educational programs that prepare students to address the world’s critical challenges related to agriculture, food systems, human wellbeing, natural resources and sustainable communities. The college has received more total (national and regional combined) USDA teaching awards than any other institution.