Matthew P. Nelsen
For all our young colleagues who attended an IAL meeting for the first time this past summer, I think it would be nice to say a few words about the person that this award is named after. Aino Henssen was one of the first female lichenologists who held a professor position. That was in Marburg in Germany in the 1960s and 70s. From her lab originated not only groundbreaking research on fruiting body ontogeny and systematics, but also a large number of students who have become active and influential lichenologists themselves. In this spirit of passing on lichenological knowledge, and thereby empowering the next generation of lichenologists, the IAL decided to honor a mid-career lichenologist with an award in Aino’s name.
This year’s awardee impressed the committee (Silke Werth, Bruce McCune, Imke Schmitt) with the amount and quality of his papers, displaying an exceptional breadth of research output. While the awardee’s research interests are clearly rooted in the evolutionary biology of the lichen symbiosis, he has the vision and capabilities to venture into broader research areas, such as symbiosis research, and biotic interactions. This has resulted in a large portfolio of papers published in journals ranging from The Lichenologist to PNAS.
Also truly amazing is the scope and amount of the awardee’s outreach activities. These included newspaper articles, panel discussions, bioblitzes, field trips, and museum exhibits; these addressed many people ranging from school groups (of all ages) to the general public. The committee came to the conclusion that the awardee’s activities have not only left a footprint on the discipline of lichenology, but have also contributed substantially to the wider dissemination of knowledge about lichens. We proudly announce Matthew Nelsen as the winner of the Henssen Award.
– Imke Schmitt