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The E3B department is delighted to announce that Dr. Thomas Bytnerowicz has won the 2020 Don Jay Melnick Award!
Named in honor of one of the founders of our department, the Melnick Award recognizes outstanding dissertation work and other departmental activities. Tom’s entire dissertation is incredibly elegant and rigorous. His first chapter developed a new method for measuring nitrogen fixation, which has opened new doors for an entire field, and set the stage for his second and third chapters. His second chapter overturns a decade-long assumption about the temperature response of nitrogen fixation, changing both our fundamental understanding and how people model nitrogen fixation. His third chapter provides the first answer to the question “how long does it take for nitrogen fixation to turn on or off?” and simultaneously provides an explanation for why some soils become very nitrogen rich. His fourth chapter made the novel observation that the successional distribution of nitrogen-fixing trees is bimodal, and provided an elegant theoretical explanation for the observation. He accomplished this groundbreaking work while raising two great kids, and was awarded with a prestigious postdoc fellowship from UT Austin.
Congratulations Tom!
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