Source: Maryland Sea Grant, University System of Maryland -

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[Mathias medal - front]

[Mathias medal - back]
[Mathias Medal]

One of Sea Grant's primary roles is to encourage outstanding scientific research in the service of sound environmental policy. To recognize the contributions of exemplary researchers who have contributed to informed policy in the Chesapeake Bay region, the Sea Grant programs of Maryland and Virginia and the Chesapeake Research Consortium have joined together to sponsor the Mathias Medal, awarded on a biennial basis to outstanding environmental researchers.

The Mathias Medal is named in honor of Charles "Mac" Mathias, retired U.S. Senator from Maryland, who was instrumental in helping to launch the current region-wide Chesapeake Bay restoration effort (see History & Procedures below for more details).

Recipients of the Mathias Medal are:

In addition to their research, the scientists have contributed greatly to the shaping of policy in the Chesapeake Bay region.

History & Procedures

In 1989, Maryland Sea Grant approached the Virginia Sea Grant Consortium and the Chesapeake Research Consortium expressing the concern that there are many opportunities for politicians and environmentalists to get recognition for there work in the public interest, but that scientists who try to delve into practical policy issues or seek to apply their expertise for the public good often go without recognition or are, in some case, are actually criticized by their colleagues for doing it. It was proposed that the three programs ought to combine forces to offer recognition in the form of a publicly presented award to scientists who serve the public in this way. Sea Grant recommended that Senator Charles "Mac" McC. Mathias, former Senator from Maryland, who is considered to be the "father" the contemporary Chesapeake Bay Restoration Program be honored in naming the medal. Senator Mathias is regarded as a politician who recognized the value of science for the public good, and who reached out frequently to seek the input of the scientific community for that purpose. Accordingly, Drs. Chris D'Elia, Joseph Mihursky, and William Rickards, Directors of Maryland Sea Grant, the Chesapeake Research Consortium, and Virginia Sea Grant, respectively, collaborated to establish a science medal award.

Drs. Mihursky and D'Elia met with Senator Mathias on June 6, 1989 to ask him to lend his name to the medal. Being a modest and self-effacing person, he felt that he did not deserve such special recognition. However, he did agree to do it. Accordingly, a photographer was sent to the (retired) Senator's office to take photographs to use in designing the medal. Dr. Jack Greer of Maryland Sea Grant assumed the responsibility of the medal production process. It was collectively decided to develop a bronze medal with a face profile on the front and the three founding institutions listed on the back. A laser engraving was made and fifty medals were cast by the firm The Protocol Groups Inc. of Danbury, Connecticut. Fifty medals were produced.

A Mathias Medal archival file has been established and initially includes this historical account of the establishment of the medal and our protocols. It is to include also a copy of the curriculum vitae of each medal recipient and any appropriate photographs or video productions. This material is presently housed at Maryland Sea Grant at College Park.

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