Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest research ecologist honored with Distinguished Science Award

Group photo: Posing with an award
Lindsey Rustad, along with Chief Christiansen and Deputy Chief of Research and Development Alex Friend, just after being honored with the USDA Forest Service’s Distinguished Science Award. USDA Forest Service photo.

NEW HAMPSHIRE – Lindsey Rustad, a research ecologist and team leader at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (part of the White Mountain National Forest), received the USDA Forest Service’s Distinguished Science Award in a ceremony at the Yates Building on June 10. The award recognizes Rustad’s outstanding contributions to ecosystems through research and leadership as well as for helping people discover the natural world through exploring the connections between art and science.

As part of the Northern Research Station’s Northern Forest Science and Applications research work unit in Durham, New Hampshire, Rustad’s research topics include biogeochemistry, global change impacts and advanced environmental sensor systems. Her current interests include implementation of cybertechnology in forests across the northeastern United States and integration of arts and science at long term ecological field stations.

Rustad and a team of Hubbard Brook researchers and staff and research partners joined forces to capture one of nature’s most destructive forces – ice – and corral it in two large research plots on the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. Working at night to take advantage of freezing conditions, the research team pumped water from Hubbard Brook to create experimental ice storm events with a range of severity; the study will improve understanding of short- and long-term effects of ice on northern forests. 

With projects like Waterviz, an online program in which real-time hydrological data from Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest and HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon are expressed visually and via sound, Rustad is exploring alternative ways of communicating data to make science available to people with seen and unseen disabilities that would otherwise exclude them from research opportunities.

Speaking after the award presentation, Rustad said that the work she is doing is possible thanks to the efforts of many other people. “I want to thank the students, interns, staff, scientists, collaborators and Forest Service Leadership who made this research and recognition possible,” she said. “It takes a village to do the kind of work we do, and this is really an award recognizing all of us.”