Robert C. Rhew, a graduate student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, has been awarded the Edward A. Frieman Director's Prize in recognition of excellence in graduate student research.
The prize was established to celebrate the 70th birthday of Scripps Institution Director Edward A. Frieman, who retired Aug. 31, 1996, after leading the institution for 10 years. Since its inception in 1996, the Frieman Prize has been given each year to a currently enrolled Scripps graduate student who has published an outstanding research paper in the past 12 months as evaluated by a faculty committee.

Rhew, in conjunction with Benjamin R. Miller and Ray F. Weiss, co-authored the paper titled, "Natural methyl bromide and methyl chloride emissions from coastal salt marshes." They identified salt marshes as a major natural source of the environmentally important gases, methyl bromide and methyl chloride. The study was published in the Jan. 20, 2000, issue of the journal Nature.

Methyl bromide is an economically important compound that is widely manufactured around the world because of its effectiveness as a pesticide against insects, weeds, pathogens, and rodents.

Because it is also considered a significant ozone-depleting substance in the stratosphere, governments have developed controls that limit methyl bromide production.

Rhew, Miller, and Weiss of Scripps's Geosciences Research Division, found that although they make up only 0.1 percent of the earth's surface, salt marshes may be responsible for producing approximately a surprising 10 percent of the total methyl bromide and methyl chloride budget. As a result, salt marshes may constitute Earth's largest natural terrestrial source of methyl bromide and methyl chloride.

Currently Rhew is studying terrestrial sources and sinks of methyl bromide and methyl chloride, and other trace gases. After receiving a Ph.D. in earth sciences with an emphasis on geochemistry, Rhew plans to continue his career in academia with a post-doctoral research position. Rhew currently resides in La Jolla, California.

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Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a part of the University of California, San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for global science research and graduate training in the world. In 1995, the National Research Council ranked Scripps Institution first in faculty quality among oceanography programs nationwide. The scientific scope of the institution has grown since its founding in 1903 to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical, and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. More than 300 research programs are under way today in a wide range of scientific areas. The institution has a staff of about 1,200, and annual expenditures of approximately $100 million, from federal, state, and private sources. Scripps operates the largest academic fleet with four oceanographic research ships for worldwide exploration and one research platform.

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