Biological oceanographer Deborah L. Penry, an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has become the 18th recipient of the National Science Foundation's Alan T. Waterman Award for outstanding research by a scientist under the age of 35. The award, which includes a $500,000, three-year research grant, was presented to Penry on May 12 at the National Science Board's annual dinner.
Penry, now 36, was honored for her investigations of how marine animals feed and process food. She has applied the principles of chemical reactor theory and design to explain how the digestive processes of marine life fit into the ocean ecosystem (D.L. Penry, P.A. Jumars, "Modeling animal guts as chemical reactors," American Naturalist, 129: 69-96, 1987).
According to Penry's theory, phytoplankton produce organic matter. Animals eat those...