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Long Receives GSA 2021 Israel C. Russell Award

Dr. David Long
Dr. David Long

Dr. David Long, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has been named the 2021 Israel C. Russell Awardee of the Geological Society of America’s Limnogeological Division. This honor is given for major achievements in Limnogeology, the study of lake systems and their deposits, through contributions in research, teaching and service.

According to Long, “Lakes have another type of history, the stories in their mud. My stories have focused on a time span recording the antics of humans. How I got involved in mud stories is like a pachinko machine in which a small steel ball falls through a maze of brass pins. Hitting a pin changes the ball’s direction.”

Dave Long entering the Johnson Sea Link Submersible
Dave Long, (far right) in the red jacket, preparing to enter the Johnson Sea Link submersible. Credit: Dave Long

One of those re-directional moments in Long’s career came early in his time at Michigan State University. “My research up into that point had been groundwater, rivers, swamps and rocks. Walking down the hallway one day, Bill Cooper from Zoology yelled out, “Hey Dave, do you want to go for a ride in a submarine? That started the Laurentian Great Lakes studies, from below on the Johnson Sea Link submersible and above on the US EPA RV Lake Guardian.” Long explained.

That fateful question led to what would become a career “deep dive” into the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Maine, Lake Victoria and more than 45 inland lakes in Michigan. It involved not only sampling the water, but sampling the sediment and taking sediment cores. “The chemistry of those layers is a record of what's coming in from the atmosphere, what's coming up the landscape, what might be happening at the bottom of the lake.”

Underwater caves carved out the burbot.
Caves carved out of the base of Lake Superior by Burbot, a member of the cod family. This image is probably one of the first recorded of these caves in the bottom of any Great Lake. Credit: Dave Long

As an Aqueous and Environmental Geochemist, Long used those cores to study biogeochemical cycles, interactions of elements, and dissolved organic compounds in sediments, wetlands, rivers, lakes, and groundwater. Long also worked to understand both the natural and human induced changes in water chemistry as it moves through the water cycle using stable isotopes, multivariate statistics, and geochemical modeling.

Long was nominated for this award by his colleague Dr. Barry Lyons of Ohio State University. “Although Dave has a broad and productive research portfolio including important contributions in medical geology and environmental geochemistry, the research area that he has maintained throughout his entire 40-year career has been in limnogeology.”

“A career is where you have the opportunity to be creative and do something interesting and new, whether it's art, music, or science. And that's where you're going to get the most enjoyment out of life.” said Long.

posing with sampling crew on boat in Lake Geneserath
Dave Long (center) with sampling crew in Lake Geneserath on Beaver Island. (L-R) Glen Schmidt from MEDQ, Paul Grieve, Matt Parsons, Ryan Vannier and Amanda Robinson (Credit: Dave Long)

Long received his B.A. in Geology from Monmouth College, an M.S. in Hydrogeochemistry from the University of Illinois in Chicago and Ph.D. in Aqueous Geochemistry from the University of Kansas. He was also an assistant professor at North Carolina State University. During his time at MSU, Long’s appointments have included Earth and Environmental Sciences, Environmental Engineering, Institute for Global Health, and affiliations in Latin American Studies, Canadian Studies, the Center for Environmental Toxicology, and the Environmental Science and Policy Program. He has also served on the State of Michigan’s Environmental Science and Environmental Review boards.

In response to the award, Long said “I am very honored to receive this award from the Limnological Division of GSA and accept it on behalf of all who made this possible; my colleagues, my graduate students, the many undergraduate students that included my son Jonathan, who was studying at that ‘other university’ (University of Michigan), my wife Jean, and all the brass pins in my life. The journey has been fun.”


Time: Nov 3, 2021, 08:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 
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Meeting ID: 915 0529 6934 
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Banner Image: An vintage pachinko machine (Credit: Carl Wegman)


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