Adina Paytan, a research scientist in the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, was chosen to give the Rachel Carson Lecture at the 2013 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco in December. The invitation to give the Carson Lecture is an honor that recognizes the accomplishments of a female scientist who exemplifies Rachel Carson's work in ocean science, especially science relevant to societal concerns.
The Carson Lecture is named in honor of marine biologist Rachel Louise Carson, best known as the author of the book Silent Spring. Published in 1962, it described the environmental damage caused by widespread use of chemical pesticides, led to greater public awareness of the issue, and helped bring about increased regulation of pesticides. Carson wrote several widely read books on the sea and ecological themes, including The Sea Around Us (1951), which received a National Book Award. She taught zoology at the University of Maryland and later worked for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and its successor, the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Paytan studies chemical and biological processes in the oceans, how they have changed over time, and how they are affected by human activities. Her research addresses a wide range of questions involving the global systems that affect ocean productivity, seawater chemistry, nutrient cycles, and water pollution. An over-arching goal of her lab's research is to link changes observed in the Earth and ocean systems to global changes in climate and tectonics, with an emphasis on human impacts.
Paytan is also dedicated to science education and outreach. She devotes time to develop and implement programs that enhance the process of learning science, expose students at all levels to the excitement of doing science, and introduce the relevance of science to real-world problems and current issues.