Brooks and six other award recipients were honored at a ceremony at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., on May 9.
For more than 30 years, Brooks has built a research program in wetlands science that spans the full range of topics relating to wetlands ecology and conservation. This research is highly applied, making it valuable to natural resource managers and policymakers in developing and implementing effective programs to protect wetlands.
“Rob’s work in wetland research, particularly in support of EPA’s Region III wetland monitoring and assessment efforts, has helped build regional and state capacity from essentially zero in 2000 to comprehensive state wetland monitoring programs in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia in just 10 years,” said Regina Poeske, senior ecologist for EPA Region III. “Rob has been a remarkable catalyst for the development and implementation of state wetland monitoring and assessment programs, and his continued leadership and research efforts are helping lead the way toward more scientifically defensible wetland protection and restoration programs.”
In 1993, Brooks founded Riparia, a center focused on wetlands and aquatic ecosystems science. Based in the Department of Geography, the center works collaboratively with other academic institutions and government agencies to advance the state of wetland science. As Poeske noted, “Under Rob’s direction, Riparia has led or participated in some of the most significant research on wetlands and wetland assessment techniques in the country.”
In addition to his research, Brooks takes an avid interest in training graduate students to contribute to the long-term protection of wetlands habitat, mentoring 42 graduate students to the completion of their degrees. “I’m always looking for students with a sparkle in their eye and an interest in conservation that is comparable to mine,” he said.
Most impressive, however, is Brooks’s dedication to conserving wetlands. “What sets Rob apart is his dedication and efforts to making a positive contribution to wetland conservation – whether in training students to become conservation professionals or working with agency biologists to develop management plans that ensure the protection of wetlands,” said Thomas Serfass, professor of wildlife ecology at Frostburg State University. “Rob is able to make a difference because of his positive, encouraging and collegial approach in dealing with people – students and professionals alike.”
Brooks’ research has resulted in more than 100 peer-reviewed articles, numerous book chapters and more than 140 presentations.