INHS Biologist Receives a Distinguished Service Award
Champaign, Ill – Mark Wetzel, research scientist and oligochaetologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey (Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), was awarded the 2014 Distinguished Service Award in May by the Society for Freshwater Science, an international scientific organization with over 1,800 members in over 40 countries that promotes understanding of freshwater ecosystems.
Wetzel joined the Society when he began working at INHS in 1972. His first boss at the INHS, Dr. R. Weldon (Larry) Larimore, was one of the 13 founding members of this society when it was established at the Illinois River Biological Station at Havana, IL in 1953.
The Distinguished Service Award goes to an SFS member who has made a genuine and lasting contribution to the betterment of the Society. Wetzel is chairman of the SFS Literature Review Committee, having been a member for 35 years. He has also served as the Society’s photographer and has provided a pictorial history of past meetings. In addition, Wetzel serves on the Society’s Technical Information Committee and has assisted with developing the SFS website and with student awards judging. He was a founding member of the Society’s Taxonomic Certification Program, and continues to serve on that program’s oversight committee.
With other biologists, Wetzel provides environmental assessments for Illinois areas that will be affected by highway construction projects of the Illinois Department of Transportation. Current and recent projects involve studying the aquatic fauna in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Colorado River and its tributaries in the Grand Canyon National Park, the Huron Mountains in Michigan, an on-line nomenclator catalog for all oligochaete species of the world, as well as projects focusing on the distribution, taxonomy, systematics, and ecology of aquatic and terrestrial annelids. He is co-authoring a second edition of a taxonomic guide for the aquatic clitellate annelids of North America. Since the late 1970s, he has served as the curator and collections manager of the INHS Annelida Collection.