Vernon Ahmadjian was educated in Massachusetts and received the A.B. and M.A. from Clark University in Worcester Mass. He developed an early interest in lower plants as a student, especially algae and fungi, and pursued these interests at Harvard University, where he worked with the late I. Mackenzie Lamb on the physiology of lichen symbionts. At various subsequent academic posts, including the University of Massachusetts, the University of California at Berkeley and, most notably Clark University, (where he began his academic career), he developed techniques to isolate and culture lichen symbionts in the laboratory.
His research led to numerous penetrating discoveries concerning the factors that regulate early development of the lichen symbiosis. His scholarship is remarkable both for its significance and its breadth. He has authored or co-authored hundreds of research articles on subjects dealing primarily with lichen synthesis, ultrastructure and physiology; and also numerous books, among them two entitled The Lichen Symbiosis (one published in 1967 and one in 1993), one he co-edited with Mason Hale called The Lichens (1973), and a book on symbiosis (Symbiosis: An Introduction to Biological Associations) he co-authored with Surindar Paracer (1986). All of these books have been enormously influential; but Vernon himself has played a role in the development of many lichen biologists (some in attendance here at the IAL3).
He is the kindest and most gracious of colleagues and teachers and is always willing to provide assistance and advice. He has also served his field in many capacities, both in the US and internationally. He was the first editor of the International Lichenological Newsletter (which was printed at that time in Mason Hale’s basement); and he has always been an active participant in the IAL. For his pioneering research, then, but also in recognition of his civility and generosity, Vernon Ahmadjian has been awarded a much-deserved Acharius medal.
– James Lawrey