Carlton earns medal for oceanic research

James Carlton, professor of marine sciences and director of the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program at Mystic Seaport, is this year’s recipient of the California Academy of Sciences Fellows’ Medal.

The California Academy of Sciences, which is based in San Francisco, is one of the nation’s premier institutes for scientific research and education and is counted among the world’s largest museums of natural history and science. The medal is given to “especially prominent scientists who have made outstanding contributions to their specific scientific fields.” The Academy’s board of trustees annually selects one medalist. Fifty medals have been awarded to date.

“I was greatly surprised to receive the Academy’s Fellows Medal. The California Academy of Sciences is one of the country’s leading scientific institutions, and I am deeply honored and humbled to be in the company of the other scientists who have been Academy medalists,” Carlton said.

Carlton has been the director of the Williams-Mystic program since 1989. His research focuses on coastal marine ecosystems and environmental history. Specifically, he is interested in invasions of non-native species and the study of modern-day extinctions of species in the oceans. He is the founding editor of the magazine Biological Invasions, a Pew Fellow for Marine Conservation and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is currently the lead investigator on a study funded by the National Science Foundation to explore the effects of maritime life transported across the Pacific Ocean in the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that occurred in March 2011. Carlton has also been a Duke University Conservation Scholar, Distinguished Research Fellow at the University of California Bodega Marine Laboratory and the Paul Illg Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories.

Carlton was  also awarded the Interagency Recognition Award by the U.S. federal government for his work to reduce the impacts of exotic species invasions in the ocean. He is the only scientist to have ever received the award. In 1995, the Smithsonian Institute named Carlton an “Ocean Hero.”