From the President: Greetings from Paris…

Robert Howarth

Professor in Ecology & Environmental Biology

Cornell University

Dr. Robert Howarth chairs the International SCOPE Biofuels Project, is President of the Coastal & Estuarine Research Federation, directs the Agrictural Ecosystems Program at Cornell University, and represents the State of New York on the science and technical advisory committee of the Chesapeake Bay Program. Howarth is also the Founding Editor of the journal "Biogeochemistry" and served as Editor-in-Chief from 1983 to 2004.

Howarth's research program is focused broadly on the following topics: the interaction of climate and land-use as regulators of nutrient flows from large watersheds; the effects of biofuels on the environment; deposition of nitrogen gases, particularly near vehicle and agricultural emission sources; human alteraton of global and regional nitrogen and phosphorus cycles; complex biogeochemical feedbacks that occur in estuaries during eutrophication; and the interaction of biotic, physical and biogeochemical factors as controls on nitrogen fixation.

CERF has an important election coming up this summer for the future leadership of the Federation, and we have a great slate of candidates. Walter Boynton, University of Maryland, and Robert Twilley, LSU, are running for President (for a 6-year period on the Governing Board, serving as President from 2011-2013); Leila Hamdan, US Naval Research Lab, and Beth Hinchey Malloy, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, are running for Secretary; and Bob Diaz, VIMS, Karin Limburg, SUNY-ESF, Janet Nestlerode, Gulf Ecology Division EPA, and Don Scavia, University of Michigan, are running for two slots as members at large on the Governing Board. I am delighted that they are all willing to run, and to serve CERF if elected! I thank Bob Christian for his work as chair of the Board recruitment committee in bringing this slate together.

      For the first time, CERF members will vote for officers and other Board members electronically through the web, both because the Board feels this will be more convenient for most members and because it will cost less for the Federation. Please look for the announcement by email, and please vote.

      Plans for the CERF 2009 conference are coming along very well, and this promises to be another incredible (C)ERF meeting. Your Board had our fall meeting in Portland last November to check out the venue. What a beautiful, friendly, and lively city (not to mention green! Portland has a fantastic light-rail system to move you about). Literally dozens of volunteers are working hard on this meeting. Check out the details at the CERF website (, and submit your abstracts (May 15 deadline). I look forward to seeing you there!

      We have already begun planning for the CERF 2011 conference, to be held in Daytona Beach, Florida. Jim Fourqurean, FIU, and Felicia Coleman, FSU, have agreed to serve as overall co-chairs for the meeting; and Dave Rudnick is willing to take on the leadership for the science program. This is another great team, in the tradition of that for CERF 2009 and the past ERF meetings. All three will be at CERF 2009. Please give them your ideas for the Daytona meeting, and thank them for stepping up to the challenge.

      I am living in Paris for the spring while on sabbatical leave, working with Gilles Billen (past co-Editor-in-Chief of Estuaries) and Josette Garnier. I am having a wonderful time, and managing to actually do some research, as well as enjoy the food, wine, and wonderful community of Paris. I am still actively engaged in CERF business during the three months I am here, but Past-President Bob Christian and President-Elect Susan Williams have taken on much of the work load from me for this time period, for which I am extremely grateful. If any CERF members are traveling through Paris this spring, please drop me an e.mail, and perhaps we can get together for a glass of wine.

      Finally, our report on biofuels and environment from the International SCOPE Biofuels Program was published online in early April. All 17 chapters, including one on the Gulf hypoxic zone and other water quality issues by Simpson et al., plus the executive summary are available at The report is getting a fair amount of attention, and I hope it will have some influence. Our take-home message is that the current approach of producing ethanol from corn is a really bad idea; making ethanol from cellulose in the future is somewhat better; but the best approach is to give up on ethanol as a fuel and instead directly burn biomass to co-generate heat and electricity. Please take a look at the report, and let me know what you think. Thank you all for your support of CERF.