Headlines at Hopkins: news releases from across
university Headlines
News by Topic: news releases organized by
subject News by Topic
News by School: news releases organized by the 
university's 9 schools & divisions News by School
Events Open to the Public (campus-wide) Events Open
to the Public
Blue Jay Sports: Hopkins Athletic Center Blue Jay Sports
Search News Site Search the Site

Contacting the News Staff: directory of
press officers Contacting
News Staff
Receive News Via Email (listservs) Receive News
Via Email
Resources for Journalists Resources for Journalists

Virtually Live@Hopkins: audio and video news Virtually
Hopkins in the News: news clips about Hopkins Hopkins in
the News

Faculty Experts: searchable resource organized by 
topic Faculty Experts
Faculty and Administrator Photos Faculty and
Faculty with Homepages Faculty with Homepages

JHUNIVERSE Homepage JHUniverse Homepage
Headlines at Hopkins
News Release

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960
Fax: 443-287-9898

April 28, 2004
At Maryland Sea Grant:
Jack Greer, Asst. Dir. Public Affairs
301-403-4220, ext.18
At Johns Hopkins University:
Phil Sneiderman, News & Information
443-287-9960, prs@jhu.edu

Paleoecologist to Be Honored for
Chesapeake Bay Research

Grace Brush of Johns Hopkins Will Be First Woman to Receive
Prestigious Mathias Medal

Grace Brush, a Johns Hopkins University scientist well known for her work on the pre-colonial ecology of the Chesapeake Bay, will receive the prestigious Mathias Medal on May 6, 2004, during a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Named for former U.S. Sen. Charles "Mac" Mathias, R-Maryland, who is widely credited with launching a federal-state partnership to restore the bay, the Mathias Medal is presented to scientists whose work has had a significant impact on policies affecting the Chesapeake. Awarded by the Sea Grant programs of Maryland and Virginia and the Chesapeake Research Consortium, the medal has been given only four times since its creation in 1990.

A professor in the Whiting School of Engineering's Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, Brush is the first paleoecologist to win the award. She is also the first woman.

Brush pioneered studies that used the presence of plant pollen, microscopic organisms and other substances in bay sediments to track changes in the estuary and in the watershed that surrounds it. Her studies have provided the basis for much of our early understanding of how and when the forests surrounding the bay were first cleared, and how resultant shifts in sediment loads and water chemistry changed the bay and its ecosystem.

"When policymakers attempt to compare the bay of the past with the bay of the future," says Maryland Sea Grant Director Jonathan G. Kramer, "they turn to the work of Grace Brush." Kramer calls her work "pivotal" because it has detailed the story of the bay's response to human settlement, beginning with the clearing of the region's forests and continuing right up to the impacts of sewage treatment plants.

"Grace Brush has been extremely helpful in identifying the impacts of land use changes on the bay," says Ann Swanson, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. "Her work is very concrete. It's added to the quiver of facts you need to hit the target [of nutrient reduction]."

"There are many scientists working on the bay, but only a few who really influence you," says Swanson. "Grace Brush is one of those few."

Ted Poehler, vice provost for research at Johns Hopkins, calls Brush a "cornerstone" of her department. "Grace has a long and impressive history at Hopkins," he says. "She helped others and helped to bring stability to that program and to [the study of] the Chesapeake Bay." Poehler points out that Brush has set an important example for women in science. "Back in 1956, when she got her doctorate, the number of women in engineering fields was quite small," he says. "The women who did enter the sciences were more likely to enter biology or chemistry." Researchers like Brush were really "pioneers," he says. "It was pretty lonely."

Adds Poehler, "We need more role models like Grace."

Brush began her career in 1949, working as a technician for the Geological Survey of Canada. She later earned her doctorate in biology from Harvard University. Brush came to Johns Hopkins in 1973 as a research scientist, and from 1976 through1978 she also served as the administrator of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Power Plant Research Program.

Now a full professor at Johns Hopkins, Brush has won awards for her teaching and scientific contributions, including the George E. Owen Teaching Award in 2001 and an Individual Award for Leadership in Environmental Stewardship from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Featuring Brush on its cover, Johns Hopkins Magazine devoted an in-depth article in its February 2004 issue to her work on paleoecology and the Chesapeake Bay. Brush was also featured in the summer 2002 issue of Chesapeake Quarterly, a magazine published by the Maryland Sea Grant College.

At 73, Brush, who has studied the bay for a quarter- century, says that the impacts that people have on the environment - so-called "anthropogenic" effects - have resulted in "one of the most extensive and intensive global disturbances that there has been."

Previous recipients of the Mathias Award include Donald S. Pritchard, L. Eugene Cronin, Clifford Randall and William Hargis, all recognized as researchers whose scientific work has had a profound impact on policies affecting the Chesapeake Bay.

Photos of Grace Brush are available; Contact Jack Greer.

Related Links
Johns Hopkins Magazine Profile of Grace Brush
Chesapeake Quarterly Features on Grace Brush
Grace Brush's Web Page
Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering

Johns Hopkins University news releases can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.jhu.edu/news_info/news/
   Information on automatic e-mail delivery of science and medical news releases is available at the same address.

Go to Headlines@HopkinsHome Page