2021 Israel C. Russell Award

Presented to David Long

David Long

David Long
Michigan State University



It is both an honor and a great joy for me to introduce Dr. David T. Long as the 2021 Israel C. Russell Awardee for excellence in limnogeology. Although Dave has a broad and productive research portfolio including important contributions in medical geology and environmental geochemistry, the research area that he has maintained throughout his entire 40-year career has been in limnogeology. During those four decades, Dave, his students, and his many collaborators have worked on lakes in the Middle East, Africa, Australia, Mexico, and in the Laurentian Great Lakes and smaller lake systems in his now home state of Michigan. Dave has published extensively on the sources, transport and fate of trace metals in lacustrine systems, on the partitioning of metals between solid sediment and pore fluids, and on the use of lake sediments as archives to document the role and timing of anthropogenic activities, especially landuse change and pollution history. Dave was a leader in NOAA’s Undersea Research Program (NURP) in the 1980s and 90s, where he utilized submersibles to investigate lake processes and to obtain cores for paleolimnology studies. Dave also served on the NOAA-NURP planning committee for their Great Lakes of the World Program. He was the co-coordinator of Michigan State University’s Yucatan Cooperative Water Initiative from 2012 until his retirement in 2019, leadership reflecting his important contributions on cenotes and groundwater-lake interactions in karst settings. His leadership and scientific contributions on Lake Tyrrell, a playa lake system in eastern Australia led to some of the first publications describing in detail the geochemistry and the hydrogeology of a contemporary acid groundwater-lake environment. His ability to integrate geochemical, hydrological, and ecological principles into his research has been an important attribute of his work.

In addition to his scientific acumen, Dave is a dedicated and accomplished teacher. The energy and enthusiasm that he brings to the classroom and to the conference podium are well known. He has also been an outstanding mentor of students to whom he brought his enthusiasm for Earth sciences. As a member of the society, since the late 1970s, and as a GSA Fellow, Dave has a long-time involvement and a lengthy service record to GSA.

Dave is an excellent choice for this year’s Russell Award for his important, innovative, and long lasting contributions to the field of limnogeology. Congratulations, Dave.


Response by David Long

Berry, thank you for the kind words and for reading the text I sent you so well. Seriously, being nominated for the GSA 2021 Israel C. Russell Award in Limnogeology by a very close friend, extraordinary colleague, and outstanding scientist and educator is humbling.

Professor Russell was an interesting fellow, although where he chose to be a professor may be considered suspect. His training in civil engineering allowed him to be engaged in various studies of lakes, rivers, and Quaternary history. He approached the history of lakes from a geological perspective. Consider his statement in his 1895 publication, Lakes of North America: a Reading Lesson for Students of Geography and Geology: “The history of a lake begins with the origin of its basin and considers among other subjects the movements of waters, the changes it produces in the topography of its shores, its relation to climate, its geological functions, its connection with plant and animal life, etc.” My training in aqueous geochemistry has allowed me a similar diversity of studies, albeit from a chemical perspective.

Lakes have another type of history, the stories in their mud. My stories have focused on a time span recording the antics of humans. How I got involved in mud stories is like a pachinko machine in which a small steel ball falls through a maze of brass pins. Hitting a pin changes its direction. Walking down the hallway one day, Bill Cooper from Zoology yelled out, “Hey Dave, do you want to go for a ride in a submarine?” That started the Laurentian Great Lakes studies, from below (Johnson Sea Link submersible) and above (US EPA RV Lake Guardian). Steve Eisenreich taught me the process of conducting historical mud research and things like focusing factors, and Yu-Ping Chin, the how-to’s of porewater work. Tim Wilson, my graduate student, was key in getting these studies off the ground including building a gimbal for our centrifuge, leading the way for further studies by grad students Judy Campbell, Adam Heft, Sang Jo Jeong, Jon Kolak, Jane Matty, Joe McKee, William Sitarz, and Jeffery Vought. When we moved to inland lakes of Michigan, we designed our own platform with support from the then Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The coring device was from the recommendation by Tom Johnson, a past Russell Award recipient. John Geisy taught me sediment sampling for nasty organic chemicals. Key to the success of these studies were the huge efforts of Sharon Yohn, my graduate student, who designed the workflow (cruise to lab to thesis, dissertation, and/or publication) that was passed on to graduate students Merideth Benedict, Joel Fett, Colleen Jones, Matthew Parsons, Amanda Robinson, Sydney Ruhala, and Ryan Vannier.

In sum, I am very honored to receive this award from the Limnological Division of GSA and accept it on behalf of all who made this possible; my colleagues, my graduate students, the many undergraduate students that included my son Jonathan, who was studying at that other university, my wife Jean, and all the brass pins in my life. The journey was fun.