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Karen Casciotti named 2020 John Hayes Award recipient

The professor of Earth system science has been recognized for her innovative research on the marine nitrogen cycle.

Churning seawater

Biogeochemist Karen Casciotti, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth), has been awarded the third annual John Hayes Award from the Geochemical Society. The award is granted to a mid-career scientist who draws together multiple fields of investigation to advance biogeochemical science.

Profile image for Karen Casciotti
Karen Casciotti

Casciotti has been recognized for her innovative research on the marine nitrogen cycle. Her work explores the production and consumption of nitrate and nitrite – vital nutrients for marine photosynthesis – and nitrous oxide (N2O) – an important trace gas for the climate. Her interdisciplinary approach applies tools from stable isotope geochemistry, geochemical modeling, microbiology and molecular biology.

“It has been such an honor for me to receive this award, as John was a great mentor early in my career at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution,” Casciotti said. “I learned so much from him, and still use his course notes in my marine stable isotopes class to teach fundamental concepts and applications of isotopic fractionation.”

The John M. Hayes Award was created in 2017 by the Organic Geochemistry Division of the Geochemical Society and a group of friends, colleagues and students of geoscientist John Hayes.

“He was also one of the first people I spoke to about some surprising experimental results from my lab. John and his work inspired me to explore, and ultimately publish, the theoretical explanations,” Casciotti said. “As we continue to advance knowledge and understanding of marine biogeochemistry, I hope to share this knowledge and enthusiasm with others.”

Casciotti is also the Victoria and Roger Sant Director of the Earth Systems Program and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

Q&A: Women in oceanography

Researchers on hangar of ship at sunrise.

Earth system science researchers Karen Casciotti and Colette Kelly discuss their paths to oceanography, the challenges they’ve faced and the changes they’ve seen in the field's culture and composition.

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