First Annual Award for Early Career Achievement in Environmentalism

On Tuesday, August 15, at 6:30 p.m. at the Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, Estuary magazine and its parent The Watershed Fund bestowed its first Annual Award for Early Career Achievement in Environmentalism on Madeline Lahm. Giving a colorful and exciting presentation, Madeline (Maddy) shared her personal story and recent work investigating the quality of ocean waters as a sea-going hydrochemist. “Having been Maddy’s coach in high school lacrosse, it is no surprise to me that she is also a standout in her chosen profession as an adult,” said Estuary’s publisher, Dick Shriver in his introduction.

Maddie Lahm giving a presentation at the Old Lyme Public Library on August 15. Image Credit: Christopher Zajac.

Maddy grew up in Old Lyme on Bill Hill Road, attended the Williams School in New London, and earned a degree in Chemistry from the University of Maryland, studying ecological problems, particularly the fluorescence and life cycle of organic material in the ocean. The pathways of carbon in the oceans are poorly understood, and events like summer 2023’s Vermont flooding have brought this issue into public consciousness, as hundreds of tons of debris floated into the Connecticut River.

Maddy currently works for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO)—Australia’s National Science Agency. Few women take marine science roles in Australia, so Maddy is a pioneer there. She lives in the town of Hobart on the island of Tasmania and sails on the RV Investigator, a 300-foot, ten-story vessel that holds fifty people. She lives onboard for up to forty days at a time, performing hydrochemistry tests on expeditions with scientists from around the world. She will be leaving on an expedition to Antarctica in January 2024.

During Maddy’s talk, she pointed out that investing in young scientists gives between three to seven times the return on every dollar spent. That is one reason Estuary and The Watershed Fund are proud to sponsor Maddy’s journey as a hydrochemist and help her lead other young people to preserve our planet

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