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OFA Recipient Deborah Bronk

Deborah Bronk
Professor of Marine Science

Virginia Institute of Marine Science

What inspires me:
"Watching my students evolve into confident caring scientists!"

Deborah Bronk

Deborah Bronk is the Moses D. Nunnally distinguished professor of marine science and the chair of the Physical Sciences Department at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, where she spent the last 17 years. Bronk is a passionate instructor and a rigorous but caring mentor. As a researcher, she is one of the world’s foremost authorities on nitrogen biogeochemistry in the ocean.

Humans get nitrogen from the protein we eat, but phytoplankton and bacteria, at the base of the ocean food web, take up dissolved nitrogen from the seawater around them. Bronk’s work ranges from pioneering basic research into how organisms take up and produce nitrogen in the ocean to applied questions about the composition and removal of nitrogen in wastewater-treatment plants. She has led or participated in more than 50 research expeditions, which were the basis for her record of paradigm-changing scholarship. 

In 2008, she was elected president of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), the largest international society devoted to aquatic sciences. From 2012-2015, she served at the National Science Foundation, ultimately as Division Director of Ocean Sciences, with responsibility for basic research in oceanography in the US. She is a sustaining fellow of ASLO; the recipient of ASLO’s Lindeman Award, given annually to an outstanding young aquatic scientist; the Antarctic Service Medal; the Dean’s Prize for the Advancement of Women in Science from VIMS; and the Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence from William & Mary.

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