Conference symposium scheduled to honor the late Peter Verity

Skidaway Institute professor Marc Frischer and Deborah Bronk of the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences are organizing a special symposium to honor the work and legacy of the late Skidaway Institute professor Peter Verity.

The symposium will take place at the February 2011 conference of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) to be held in Puerto Rico in February 2011. It will be titled, “Advancing the Science and Ethics of Plankton Ecology: The Legacy of Peter Verity.”

Peter Verity

Verity was a long-time Skidaway Institute scientist who died unexpectedly last December.

“In addition to the symposium, plans are in the works for an upbeat celebration in Peter’s honor for those who contribute to the session,” said Frischer. “We’ll try to throw a party that he would have enjoyed.

“Perhaps even more then the symposium itself, getting together will help stimulate continued collaboration and research in directions that Peter would have encouraged.”

Verity was a plankton ecologist and an expert in microzooplankton ecology. According to Frischer, he had a special talent for integrating diverse field and laboratory observations with his own gut instincts and imagination to advance the field of marine plankton ecology.

“In this regard his work significantly contributed to the understanding of the ecology of broad continental shelf environments,” said Frischer. “Peter’s insights also pointed towards the ecological importance of life cycle processes of planktonic microbes, including the remarkable life transformation of the globally significant haptophyte algae Phaeocystis spp.”

Later in his career Peter became gravely concerned about the status and future of the oceans. With his own work pointing towards accelerating declines in coastal ecosystems, Verity was experimenting with the delicate balance between scientist and environmental activist. His concern for the future of the oceans led him to prioritize education activities and he was especially interested in educating teachers.

“This special session is a tribute to the scientific and social legacy of Peter Gordon Verity,” said Frischer. “We challenge participants to pay tribute to Peter’s legacy by highlighting the influence of his work and to imagine future breakthroughs that Peter would undoubtedly have contributed to.”

For additional information on the ASLO meeting, visit the conference Web site.

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