SOLOMONS, MD (May 22, 2023) – Associate Professor Ryan Woodland, an esteemed ecologist specializing in food web ecology, has been chosen as the recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award by the graduate student body at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Woodland’s dedication to science and his students has earned him this prestigious recognition. The award acknowledges his exceptional contributions as a scientist, professor, and mentor.

Graduate Student Council Co-Chair Isabel Sanchez expressed the impact Woodland has made on the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory community, both within and beyond his advisees and interns. “Ryan has had an immense impact on each of his advisees, interns, employees, and the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory community as a whole,” said Sanchez. “We believe this award rightly recognizes his truly outstanding contributions as a scientist, professor, and mentor.”

Woodland’s research focuses on coastal food webs and their interactions with environmental factors in coastal ecosystems. Through his work, he enhances our understanding of the processes that support the productivity of estuaries and coastal marine ecosystems.

Students describe Woodland as an inspiring and energetic mentor who consistently prioritizes their needs, despite juggling numerous projects. He fosters a supportive and amicable environment, leaving students with a sense of inspiration, encouragement, and confidence in their work. Woodland’s door is always open for methodological inquiries, idea discussions, or even casual conversations about music.

“Ryan’s mentorship style is the gold standard for all faculty, and one that I hope to emulate in my own life. His compassion and commitment to science and his students are incredible, and I feel very fortunate to be part of his lab every day,” expressed graduate student Matt Stefanak.

Woodland encourages all members of his lab to seize opportunities that enable them to gain essential skills and experiences for their future careers. “Somehow, Ryan always seems to know exactly the type of individual style of support his mentees need,” noted Faculty Research Assistant Theresa Murphy. “Ryan’s unbelievable support is the main reason why I have the confidence and the skills I need to go forward with pursuing graduate studies in the future.”

Among Woodland’s notable contributions to the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and the southern Maryland community is his role in organizing and implementing an internship program in collaboration with the College of Southern Maryland. This program offers local community college students a semester-long paid internship, providing them with invaluable laboratory and field work training and direct interaction with graduate students and faculty.

In addition to his mentoring of graduate and REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) students, Woodland has also mentored over 10 undergraduate students in recent years. He serves as the faculty representative for the campus’ American Association for University Women chapter.

“Ryan is a fantastic boss, mentor, and friend. He’s always been there when I’ve needed guidance and has encouraged me to expand my scientific experiences, helping me to become a more well-rounded scientist,” expressed graduate student Dani Quill. Quill further emphasized Woodland’s ability to recognize the potential in all students and staff, providing the perfect amount of guidance to foster their growth.

Woodland’s impact extends beyond academic support. Graduate student Angel Reyes Delgado shared, “The main reason I decided to study in Maryland was because of the trust and genuine interest Ryan showed to help me grow as a professional and as a person. Since day one, he has always been attentive to my emotional and economic well-being. He has provided me with so much support while I continue completing my graduate degree. … The feedback that Ryan provides on my work has been the most useful I have received in my career.”

Established in 1925, the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory is the oldest publicly supported marine laboratory on the East Coast, situated at the confluence of the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay. With a history spanning over 90 years, the laboratory has been at the forefront of fisheries research, estuarine ecology, environmental chemistry, and toxicology.

The scientists at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory conduct groundbreaking research not only in the Chesapeake Bay but also on a global scale. Their expertise extends to advising state and national agencies on sustainable fisheries management and pioneering studies on the movement of chemicals between the atmosphere, sediments, and water. The lab is renowned for its work on nutrient dynamics and the intricate complexities of the food web.

In receiving the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, Associate Professor Ryan Woodland adds another accolade to his remarkable career. His dedication to scientific research, teaching, and mentorship has made a lasting impact on his students and the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory community. Woodland’s expertise in food web ecology and his commitment to fostering the growth and development of his students have made him an invaluable asset to the university.

As the recipient of this prestigious award, Woodland joins a select group of faculty members who have demonstrated exceptional mentorship qualities. His ability to inspire, guide, and support his students has earned him high praise from those he has mentored. Through his infectious energy, Woodland instills a sense of passion and curiosity in his students, encouraging them to pursue their scientific endeavors with confidence.

Woodland’s mentorship style has become the gold standard for faculty members at the university. His compassion, commitment, and unwavering support have not only shaped the academic careers of his students but have also had a profound impact on their personal and professional lives. By providing individualized guidance and creating an inclusive and supportive environment, Woodland has empowered his mentees to realize their full potential.

One of Woodland’s significant contributions is the establishment of an internship program in collaboration with the College of Southern Maryland. This program offers invaluable opportunities for local community college students to gain hands-on experience in laboratory and fieldwork. By bringing these students into direct contact with graduate students and faculty, Woodland bridges the gap between academia and the wider community, fostering a sense of collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Woodland’s commitment to mentoring extends beyond his graduate and undergraduate students. He also serves as the faculty representative for the American Association for University Women chapter on campus, advocating for gender equality in academia and supporting initiatives that empower women in science.

The recognition of Woodland’s exceptional mentorship is a testament to his dedication and the lasting impact he has had on his students. Through his guidance, countless individuals have been inspired to pursue careers in environmental science and make meaningful contributions to the field. Woodland’s legacy as a mentor and scientist will continue to shape the future of ecological research and conservation.

As the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science celebrates the achievements of Associate Professor Ryan Woodland, it also acknowledges the important role mentorship plays in nurturing the next generation of scientists. Woodland’s outstanding contributions serve as a shining example of the transformative power of mentorship and its profound influence on the scientific community.

In conclusion, the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award recognizes the exceptional mentorship provided by Associate Professor Ryan Woodland at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. His dedication to his students, his passion for research, and his commitment to fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment have earned him this well-deserved accolade. Woodland’s impact extends beyond his immediate circle of students, reaching the wider community and inspiring future generations of scientists. The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science celebrates his achievements and recognizes him as a role model in the field of ecological research and mentorship.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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