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Charles Fisher Named Distinguished Senior Scholar

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11 May 2015

Charles FisherCharles Fisher, professor of biology and associate dean for graduate education in the Eberly College of Science at Penn State University, has been named a Distinguished Senior Scholar. The title is given by Penn State's Eberly College of Science in recognition of a sustained record of extraordinary achievement in research and education. Holders of this position have had a profound effect on their fields through creative innovation and internationally acclaimed scientific leadership, as well as exceptional accomplishments in teaching and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students.

Fisher's research focuses on the ecology of sea-floor communities that live in association with hydrothermal vents or hydrocarbon seepage. He is particularly interested in the symbiotic relationships between animals that live in these extreme environments and the bacteria they host. He works to understand the structure and biodiversity of the communities and their relationships to the complex geology and geochemistry of the region. This focus led him to study the deep-sea coral communities that occupy the hard grounds produced around hydrocarbon seeps in the Gulf of Mexico. Fisher has worked extensively on understanding the influence of human activity on these communities, and recently has demonstrated that the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on coral communities was deeper and broader than suggested by his initial findings. His research, which is critical for the conservation of deep-sea habitats, often begins with oceanographic expeditions using research submarines and remote-operated deep-sea vehicles. His team uses a number of approaches including molecular analysis, experimental manipulation of coral communities, and theoretical simulations to understand the ecology of the deep sea.

Fisher has received numerous honors for his research and teaching. The U.S. National Oceanographic Partnership Program honored his research team with the Excellence in Partnership award in 2012. Fisher received the Penn State Eberly College of Science Diversity Award in 2010. His team received a Cooperative Conservation Award, one of the highest honors from the U.S. Department of the Interior, in 2007. He received a Penn State Faculty Scholar Medal in 2004, the C. I. Noll Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2001, the Penn State Faculty Associates Award in 1997, a Collaborative Instructional and Curricular Innovation Award from Penn State in 1996, and a Presidential Young Investigator award from the National Science Foundation in 1991. Fisher also was recognized among "The Year's Best" by Popular Science magazine in 1997 for making one of the year's top 100 discoveries in science and technology.

Fisher joined the Penn State faculty in 1990 as an assistant professor and was named associate professor in 1995 and professor in 1999. He earned his doctoral degree in biological sciences at the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1985 and his bachelor's degree in biology at Michigan State University in 1976.


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