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Published: 02 Dec, 2016

Science and SciLifeLab Prize for young scientists to environmental scientist David Seekell

NEWS One of the university's promising researchers, David Seekell, has won a prestigious award: the Science and SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists. Besides being awarded a trophy and SEK 90 000, he gets the opportunity to publish a scientific paper in Science, and also attend a discussion panel at the Karolinska institutet with the editor of Science.

The prize is international and is only awarded to four young scientists per year, of which only one in the field of environmental science.

“It's a great honour to win this prize. I'm excited for the international visibility this will bring my research programme and feel a renewed energy to continue addressing difficult and important questions that are worthy of the prize,” says David Seekell.

David Seekell received the Prize for Young Scientists for research that contributed to the development of early warning indicators for environmental tipping points including desertification in arid regions, fisheries collapses in the oceans, and algae blooms in lakes. His Prize essay describes an experiment where an entire lake was instrumented and then manipulated to create a tipping point. Early warning indicators were apparent well in advance of the experimental tipping point. This study was proof-of-concept that government officials and landowners may one day be able to use early warning indicators to adapt policy and management to avoid costly or potentially irreversible environmental degradation.

The prize trophy was designed by Alicia Bergsten.

“For me it's very exciting to be able to communicate my research to Science’s broad audience. I think that fundamental environmental science, the type of research I conduct, creates important societal benefits and I hope that my prize essay will convey this to Science’s readers.”

While the award is addressed to him, he sees it as a reflection of a broader commitment of the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science to research excellence.

“I'm very proud of the quality of research produced by my colleagues and hope that this provides additional visibility to our department.”

The prize ceremony takes place in Stockholm on 9 December in the Hall of Mirrors at the Grand Hotel.


David Seekell was born in Massachusetts, USA, in 1986. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia from 2014. David Seekell joined Umeå University’s faculty in July 2016 as a Wallenberg Academy Fellow. David Seekell conducts research in the areas of aquatic ecology, and global food and water security.

Original article in Science:

Seekell, D.: Passing the point of no return. Science (2016) Vol 354 Issue 6315. 10.1126/science.aal2188

More information about the prize:

More information

For more information, please contact:

David Seekell, Department of Ecology and Environmental SciencesPhone: +46 (0)90-786 50 00

Press photo for download. Photo: Markus Marcetic © Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse/Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien

Editor: Ingrid Söderbergh