Ecologist LeRoy Poff wins Award of Excellence from Society for Freshwater Science

Portrait of LeRoy Poff standing in a shallow stream in a wooded area
Photo courtesy of LeRoy Poff

Written by Theresa Barosh, Graduate Degree Program in Ecology

Colorado is the seventh driest state in the U.S., and Australia is the driest continent in the world. Residents and wildlife inhabiting both of these places have access to relatively little freshwater compared to other parts of the world. Freshwater includes streams, rivers, bogs, lakes, and even groundwater.

What else do these two places have in common?

They share an expert in the field of freshwater ecology. LeRoy Poff is a professor in the Department of Biology at Colorado State University and holds a partial appointment at the Institute of Applied Ecology at Canberra University in Australia.

Poff received the 2019 Award of Excellence from the Society for Freshwater Science for an outstanding career studying freshwater. With international membership, the Society for Freshwater Science is the largest organization in the world of scientists focused on understanding and conserving freshwaters, awarding only one of these prestigious career awards per year.

The Award of Excellence is for scientists with consistent outstanding contributions to benthic science through research, policy, or management. “My area of expertise is to develop the scientific understanding to inform sustainable management of rivers and streams,” said Poff.

Photo of the South Fork of the Poudre River
The South Fork of the Poudre River at the Colorado State University Mountain Campus, which was one of the main sites for a large-scale project studying streams along elevation gradients in Colorado and Ecuador, led by Poff. Photo courtesy Whitney Beck.

Collaborating to inform policy

Collaborating on research projects with colleagues across the campus, Poff has worked with faculty from the departments of Biology, Fish and Wildlife, Geosciences, and Civil and Environmental Engineering.

“My colleagues at CSU have been important to my career success,” said Poff. “CSU is a great environment for collaborative work.”

Poff noted that students from the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology experience this collaborative environment regularly. For eight years, Poff was the director of the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology – the largest interdisciplinary program on CSU’s campus. He continues to advise student researchers through the program.

On the policy side, Poff has been involved with non-consumptive Colorado water management planning. This means that he considered wildlife and recreational water use in helping plan water allocations for several basins in Colorado. He has also appeared on local panels in the Fort Collins area.

“He makes information accessible to the general public,” said Whitney Beck, a graduate student researcher advised by Poff through the CSU Ecology program.

Poff was also awarded fellowships by the Ecological Society of America in 2016 and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012, and he received the Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship in 2004.