Chesterton Tribune



Noel Pavlovic of USGS honored by Save the Dunes

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Noel Pavlovic, a researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Lake Michigan Ecological Research Station, is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Paul H. Douglas Award, presented by Save the Dunes to persons who demonstrate outstanding service to the cause of preserving and protecting the Indiana Dunes.

The honor is named for the former U.S. Sen. Paul Douglas, D-Ill., without whose efforts there would be no Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

“In the past, this award has been given to volunteers, but this year Save the Dunes shifted its focus,” the organization said in a statement released on Monday. “The organization wanted to recognize that there are many kinds of heroes who protect our Indiana Dunes--not just volunteers. By selecting an important Dunes scientist this year, Save the Dunes tips its hat to say thank you to all the scientists, land managers, planners, employees of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park, staff at land trusts and other conservation organizations, researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey, and so forth--all of whom are paid to save the Dunes.”

“Some of these people do their job exceptionally well, and when you spend time with them, you quickly sense that their passion for the Indiana dunes is contagious--Noel is exactly like that,” Save the Dunes Executive Director Nicole Barker said. “Even years ago when I worked for the City of Chicago, I knew that Noel Pavlovic was recognized throughout the Chicago Wilderness region for being one of the preeminent scientists and advocates for the biodiversity of the Indiana Dunes.”

“He’s kind of famous scientifically speaking,” Barker joked.

Pavlovic has worked at the USGS Lake Michigan Ecological Research Station for more than 30 years. He was born in Pennsylvania and later moved with his parents to West Virginia where his father was a professor of physics. Pavlovic was encouraged by his parents to explore the path of scientific discovery. He attended Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., where he majored in biology and met his future wife, Sarah White. He was introduced to the botany of the Indiana Dunes on field courses at Earlham.

Pavlovic later attended the University of Tennessee, where he received his master's degree for a study of the seed banks of the Great Smoky Mountains, and then took a temporary position as a statistician with the Science Division of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The temporary position lead to eventual appointment as the division's statistician and enrollment at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was awarded his Ph.D. for his study of fame flowers in the Dunes.

“In 30 years of scientific investigation in the Dunes, Noel has undertaken many studies of the plant kingdom at the dunes, investigating species ranging from rare native species such as fame flower and Pitcher's thistle to rampant invaders such as Oriental bittersweet,” the statement said. “He and his wife Sarah raised two fine and adventuresome environmentalists, Nathan and Emily. Dr. Pavlovic is considered an important resource for national parks throughout the Great Lakes as he has become an eminent authority on the plant ecology of the Indiana Dunes.”

“Noel is a living, breathing encyclopedia of the plants of the Dunes and their ecology,” said Dr. Ralph Grundel, who has worked alongside Dr. Pavlovic for over 21 years at the U.S. Geological Survey.


Posted 12/17/2013




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