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Luigi Provasoli Award

The Luigi Provasoli Award is presented annually to the author(s) of the three, or fewer, outstanding papers published in the Journal of Phycology during the previous fiscal year.

History of Luigi Provasoli

The Luigi Provasoli Award was established in 1984 to honor the first editor of the Journal of Phycology as well as the 16th President of the Society, an individual who made many significant contributions to research on the algae. Luigi Provasoli was born in Milan, Italy, in 1908. Although born into a family involved in business activities (textile manufacture and marketing), he followed his own restless quest for a career in the natural sciences. His first direction was agriculture and included zoology and insect physiology. His early employment was working as an insect specialist for the Italian Ministry of Agriculture. He had a total of 17 publications by the time he earned his Ph. D. in 1939. It was his experience working on the nutrition of colorless flagellates in the lab of Andre Lwoff at the Pasteur Institute in Paris that oriented Provasoli toward his life-long research on the nutrition of algae and protozoa and their growth in culture. Provasoli received an appointment as Professor at the University of Camerino in 1942 but was caught in war-town Italy with his American-born wife Rose Desimini, an art student whom he had met in Paris.

After the end of the war, the Provasolis emigrated to New York City, where Luigi became an Instructor at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. By 1948 he had been promoted to head of his Department. It was during this period that Provasoli met Seymour Hutner of Brooklyn College and Caryl Haskins of the Haskins Laboratory in Manhattan. Over the next 25 years a most productive collaboration grew out of this like-minded trio of researchers, with many important discoveries on the nutrition, physiology, and cultivation of algae, protozoa, and invertebrates. Discoveries included the effect of antibiotics on the loss of chloroplasts in Euglena, the growth of Ulva in axenic culture and the effects of bacteria on its morphology, and the development of seawater media, both supplemented natural seawater and completely artificial formulations. But it was his having served as the founding editor of the Journal of Phycology which was Provasoli's real legacy to the Society. He served as editor from 1965 to 1974 and was instrumental in establishing the high standards for the Journal that persist. In 1970 Provasoli was installed as Adjunct Professor of Biology at Yale University, where his broad knowledge of the sciences and the arts influenced the graduate and undergraduate students who happened to encounter this charming Renaissance man. In 1982 Provasoli received the Gilbert Morgan Smith Award of the National Academy of Sciences. He reached retirement age in 1978, at which time he and Rose moved to the small village of Comerio in the Italian lake district. He passed away in October of 1992.

Past Recipients