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Catawba College's Dr. Michael Baranski Receives Prestigious 2008 Elizabeth Ann Bartholomew Award

April 23, 2008

Category: Biology, Environmental Science, Faculty


BaranskiDr. Michael Baranski, a Catawba College professor of biology, was recently honored with the 2008 Elizabeth Ann Bartholomew Award by the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society (SABS). The award was presented during the society's annual awards banquet held in Spartanburg, S.C. on April 18.

The award is presented in memory of Elizabeth Ann Bartholomew's untiring service to the public, to plant systematics, and to the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society. The society focuses on the botany of the eastern United States. The award is presented to individuals who have distinguished themselves in professional and public service that advances our knowledge and appreciation of the world of plants and their scientific, cultural, and aesthetic values, and/or exceptional service to the society. Bartholomew was a faculty member and curator of the herbarium at West Virginia University in Morgantown, W. Va..

"Having known Betty Bartholomew, I am especially honored to be the recipient of this award," said Dr. Baranski. "She was the epitome of an individual who dedicates their life to public service and the ideals and goals of an organization. I am especially humbled by this because it puts me in the company of some very renowned botanists who were also recipients of this award."

In making the award presentation, a few notable accomplishments of Dr. Baranski were included:

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  • He has served for over two decades on the North Carolina Non-game and Endangered Wildlife Committee.
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  • He has conducted numerous natural heritage inventories for the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, The Nature Conservancy, The Conservation Trust for North Carolina, county level entities, and private individuals.
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  • He has served as a contractor and consulting reviewer for many North Carolina Department of Transportation projects.
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  • He has served as a trustee of the Highlands Biological Foundation, and has taught courses concerning southern Appalachian plant communities for the Highlands Biological Station.
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  • He has written many technical and scholarly papers in the areas of botany and environmental science and management.
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  • He is a past president of SABS, the Association of Southeastern Biologist (ASB), and the North Carolina Academy of Science.
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  • He has served as editor of Castanea, Occasional Papers in Eastern Botany, and the Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Science.
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  • He served as program chair for the Andre Michaux International Symposium held in 2002, and also served as managing editor of the proceedings of that symposium.
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Writing in support of his nomination for the 2008 Elizabeth Ann Bartholomew Award, a colleague of Dr. Baranski's, Dr. Andrew N. Ash, chair of the Department of Biology at UNC Pembroke, wrote:

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"The above list is just an abbreviated list of Mike's contributions and
accomplishments, and doesn't do justice to the whole of Mike's
professional life. Mike is obviously an individual of great energy, but
also one of great heart and exceptional spirit. If anyone ever truly lived
their life's work, it is Mike. I have known him for some 37 years now,
and I cannot imagine what the state of North Carolina botany and ecology
would be at this point in time without his efforts."

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Dr. Baranski, who joined the Catawba faculty in 1974, has spent his career promoting environmental preservation, conservation, and awareness among his students and the public at large. He was recognized with the establishment of the Michael J. Baranski Endowed Scholarship at Catawba College in 2006 which is awarded to a student majoring in environmental science. He was also tapped in 2006 for Catawba's Bashore Distinguished Professorship in Environmental Science. This professorship is awarded for a two-year period to a faculty member in environmental science who is a high achiever as a scholar and teacher with outstanding qualifications and enthusiasm for his work and the students who are entrusted to him.

Born in Wheeling, W. Va., Dr. Baranski received his bachelor of science degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from West Liberty State College and his doctorate in ecology and botany from N.C. State University. He is a professional taxonomist and ecologist specializing in woody plants and natural areas who has written frequently for professional and technical publications and has worked on many environmental issues and projects utilizing his expertise.

PreserveIn 2002, he was selected to participate in the Chautauqua Short Course Program for College Teachers entitled "Tools for Teaching about the Environment and Conservation Biology."  He teaches a course in field biology and ecology in the Summer Ventures Program for the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics at UNC-Charlotte, and he has held adjunct and visiting teaching appointments at the Highlands Biological Station, the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, N.C. State University, and in the Duke University Graduate School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In 2004, he was named Teacher of the Year at Catawba College. Dr. Baranski's teaching specialties include conservation biology, resource management, vegetation ecology, field botany, and plant systematics.

Dr. Baranski was recognized by Catawba in 2002 when the lake located in the college's 189-acre Ecological Preserve was named Lake Baranski in his honor. It was largely thanks to his efforts that Catawba's Ecological Preserve was designated as part of North Carolina's Registry of Natural Heritage Areas in the late 1980s.

Dr. Baranski is married to wife Julia and they are parents of two adult children.


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