Jan CiborowskiBiology professor emeritus Jan Ciborowski, pictured here during fieldwork in the Turkey Creek wetland, has received a lifetime achievement award from the International Association for Great Lakes Research.

Professor emeritus honoured with lifetime achievement award

UWindsor biology professor emeritus Jan Ciborowski’s 35-year commitment to protecting the Great Lakes has been acknowledged with the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Jan Ciborowski’s distinguished career has been characterized by selfless, tireless dedication to his students and to the Great Lakes community,” says Mike McKay, executive director of the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research. “Jan’s legacy through formation of the Lake Erie Millenium Network and his contributions to ensuring the success of the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative laid the foundation for the successful collaborative binational research network we see today in the Lake Erie basin.”

The award recognizes important and continued contributions to the field of Great Lakes research over a period of 20 years or more. Dr. Ciborowski started at UWindsor in 1984, where he became a dedicated mentor to more than 265 students over his career. In 2019, he retired and took a position at the University of Calgary, but he continues to serve as a co-advisor for UWindsor graduate students.

When Ciborowski received word via email that he had received the IAGLR Lifetime Achievement Award, he thought from the subject line that it was a general announcement of this year’s award winners.

“I'm always interested to hear which deserving colleague is announced each year,” says Ciborowski. “It was quite a shock to see the message inside saying that I was the committee’s choice for this year!”

Ciborowski is a recognized expert in monitoring and in organism stressor-response relationships, and his technical expertise includes working with nutrients, toxicity assays, algae, and invertebrates of aquatic ecosystems. He has received numerous awards for his work, including from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (2008), the International Joint Commission (2003), Ohio Sea Grant (2017), and in 2016 he received UWindsor’s Faculty of Science Lifetime Achievement Award.

In his western Canada research, which he started while in Windsor, Ciborowski evaluates the success of mining companies’ efforts to build new wetlands on reclaimed landscapes in the Alberta Oil Sands area, using a testing a method he developed.

“The wetlands being built look very green and promising,” he says, “but there aren't any objective methods by which to evaluate them. Both the companies and the regulators need tools to predict if the wetlands will be functional parts of the landscapes as they age.”

The IAGLR is a scientific organization made up of researchers studying the Laurentian Great Lakes, other large lakes of the world, and their watersheds, as well as those with an interest in such research. It conferred Ciborowski’s award in an online presentation on June 11 as part of its annual Conference on Great Lakes Research.

—Sara Elliott