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February 3, 2014

Bryan (Byungman) Yoon (Forestry & Environmental Science) was awarded the inaugural F. Herbert Bormann Prize, established to honor research that builds on the legacy of the longtime F&ES professor who died in 2012. Bormann was a plant ecologist whose research led to the discovery of acid rain as an environmental hazard. He taught at Yale from 1966 until his retirement in 1992.

At the awards ceremony, left to right: Allegheny College Professor Richard Bowden (PhD 1987, F&ES), Christine Bormann, Yale Professors Peter Raymond and David Skelly, Bryan Yoon, and Dean Peter Crane.

Bryan received the prize for a study that revealed the staggering amount of organic matter released a New York reservoir in the Catskills during Hurricane Irene in August 2011. He had been collecting data on the amount of dissolved organic matter entering the Ashokan Reservoir — a critical source of drinking water for New York City. In late August of 2011, as Hurricane Irene churned toward the northeastern U.S., his adviser, Peter A. Raymond, suggested it was a good opportunity to gauge the effects of an extreme weather event on the local ecosystem’s carbon cycle.

The storm dumped eleven inches of rain in two days. Once local roadways were reopened following the storm, Bryan collected the samples and analyzed the data. “We looked at all the samples and realized that this is the biggest flux of carbon that’s ever been recorded in any one event,” he says. “The sheer magnitude of what happened is worth recording.” The study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Bryan’s dissertation research focuses on developing a regional scale model that can effectively describe both quantitative and qualitative dynamics of organic carbon transport in fresh water systems. Working with his adviser, Peter Raymond, he hopes his research will also help elucidate how rapidly changing climate will affect the drinking water quality and quantity in Connecticut.

Aside from academics, he is a residential coordinator for Graduate Housing, serving as a liaison between the office and the residents, doing whatever needs to be done, from organizing social activities to catching a confused bat.

Born in Seoul, Korea, Bryan earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Washington and his master’s degree from Yale.