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Historical Notes on the Limnological Research Center

by Herb Wright

The incentive for these historical notes comes from the initiative of Geoff Seltzer to assemble as many of the LRC alumni and alumnae as could be found on short notice for a photograph on the steps of Pillsbury Hall on the occasion of the American Quaternary Association meeting in June. Everyone was arrayed chronologically on the steps, and a list was compiled with names and periods of tenure. I thought it would be interesting to provide some notes to supplement the bare chronology, and to add the names of those graduate students and post-docs in or near the LRC who frequented Pillsbury Hall and who are not represented in the photograph.

The LRC was preceded by the pollen laboratory, initiated in 1956 by a grant from the Hill Family Foundation. In 1959 the LRC was established by a separate grant from the Hill Family Foundation, and in 1963 the pollen laboratory was incorporated within it. The pollen laboratory revolved in successive years around the year-long visits of experienced paleoecologists from European laboratories, starting with Magnus Fries from Sweden and followed by Saskia Jelgersma from The Netherlands, Willem van Zeist from The Netherlands, Bill Watts from Ireland, Roel Janssen from The Netherlands, Maj-Britt Florin from Sweden, Krystyna Wasylikowa and Kazik Wasylik from Poland, Johanna and Eberhard Gruger from Germany, Elizabeth Haworth from England, John and Hilary Birks from England, and (in later years) Rick Battarbee from England, Svante Bjorck from Sweden, and Jan Janssens from Belgium via Canada. Several of these persons returned in subsequent years, notably Bill Watts, Roel Janssen, John Birks, and Svante Bjorck. Foreign visitors for several months included Richard West and Kevin Edwards (England), Jan Mangerud (Norway), Norio Fuji (Japan), Alojz Sercelj (Yugoslavia), and Pan Mao (China). On the neolimnological side, Gunilla Lindmark came from Sweden, Dragica Matulova from Czechoslovakia, Nils BoJensen from Norway, and Victoria Okusami from Nigeria. This foreign flavor was supplemented by students from Ireland (Alan Craig, Norman Allott, Henry Lamb, Joan Lennon, Roger Dutton), Japan (Junko Ogawa), Finland (Liisa Koivo), Canada (Vern Rampton), Sweden (Kerstin Griff1n, Elisabeth Almgren, Karin Ahlberg), The Netherlands (Rik Jansen), Belgium (Dirk Verschuren), and Russia (Elena Litchman). In the last few years with the coming of Kerry Kelts from Switzerland as director, the foreign contingent has included post-docs from Spain (Blas Valero-Garces), Switzerland (Antje Schwalb, Essaid Zeroual), France (Babette Truze), and Canada (Brian Cumming), as well as students from China (Juanjuan Xia, Jun-Qing Yu, Zhigang Gong, Yue Han). Non-foreign post-docs have included Ed Cushing, Bob Megard, Linda Shane, Paul Glaser, Dan Engstrom, Sheri Fritz, John Bradbury, Mel Whiteside, Dick Brugam, Tom Crisman, John Kingston, Brian Haskell, Michael Rosen, Amy Leventer, and FengSheng Hu. Jean Waddington managed the pollen laboratory for many years before Linda Shane, who has passed the torch on to Dawn Graber, the current lab manager. Tom Johnson of the Geology faculty was closely affiliated with the LRC just before moving to Duluth, and Emi Ito has recently beccome an active member. Of course many other were associated witht the LRC over the years, such as technicians, secretaries, administrative assistants, undergraduate helpers, and many of these were critical for the social ambience.

LRC Mission Statement

The Limnological Research Center (LRC), founded in 1959, is a unit of the Newton Horace Winchell School of Earth Sciences. LRC pursues a mission of interdisciplinary research in lakes with the goal of reconstructing continental paleorecords of regional and global environmental change. Lakes are studied as integrated systems to understand biological, ecological, chemical, geological, hydrological and biogeochemical processes and how these signals are recorded in lake sediments. Various techniques are combined to reconstruct past histories of change in aqueous and terrestrial systems including: a) the paleoecology of pollen, diatoms, ostracods, organic matter, and other microfossils, b) comprehensive sedimentological signatures, c) geochemistry and stable isotopes of organic and inorganic compounds, and d) high-resolution time-series chronologies. The over-arching goal behind this research is to reconstruct and understand patterns of past global climate change as archived in a worldwide network of lacustrine settings.

The LRC Core Facility comprises a state of the art Core Lab, the US National Lacustrine Core Repository, and an extensive array of field systems for collection of lake cores from a variety of lacustrine settings. Within the University of Minnesota, LRC maintains close ties with the Large Lakes Observatory in Duluth (LLO) and actively interacts and collaborates with the Institute for Rock Magnetism, the Minnesota Isotope Lab (TIMS and Stable Isotope Labs), the Minnesota Geological Survey, and the Departments of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior and Geography.

LRC Publication List

This Publication List (PDF, 390KB) contains all the publications by LRC faculty, staff, researchers and students from 1961 - 2010.


In the following list, the dates were provided by those present or were extracted from annual reports of the LRC or other sources. Current locations are given where known. Any corrections or updates would be appreciated.