Ron Kiene (1959 to 2019) was a much loved colleague, mentor and scholar. Ron passed away on January 19, 2019. As a scholar, Ron’s research focused on the role of microorganisms in the cycling of organic matter and important elements such as sulfur and nitrogen in aquatic systems. A major focus of his research program was the biogeochemical cycling of dimethylsulfide (DMS) and its precursor dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) in the marine water column. He and his students carried out this research in local waters but also on oceanographic cruises all over the world. The field continues to broaden as a result of Ron’s work which discovered new and important roles for DMSP and its degradation products in the marine ecosystem. DMSP is produced by many, but not all, marine algae who use it as an osmotic solute and potentially an antioxidant. DMSP is degraded by microorganisms to volatile DMS which is a major source of sulfur to the atmosphere. This input of DMS to the atmosphere significantly affects atmospheric chemistry (especially the pH of precipitation) and also the global climate system because DMS is oxidized to sulfate aerosols (tiny crystals of salt). Sulfate aerosols affect climate by directly reflecting solar radiation back to space and by serving as cloud condensation nuclei, which in turn affect how clouds reflect solar radiation.
More Broadly, Ron was passionate about protecting the marine environment and recognizing the role and potential impact of global warming on ocean life. He mentored numerous undergraduate, MS, and Ph.D. students during his time at USA. Recognizing Ron’s commitment to secondary education, we have established the Ron Kiene Memorial Research Scholarship. The scholarship is designed to reward an accomplished undergraduate science student who has also declared a minor in marine sciences, a program Ron helped establish and was an advocate for. All donations received will be matched 1:1 by the Moulton-Mitchell Fund at USA.
Please consider donating to establish a legacy for Ron at USA by clicking the button below.