Dr. Gene Likens’ research focuses on the ecology and biogeochemistry of forest and aquatic ecosystems, primarily through long-term studies at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He was the co-founder of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study in 1963, which has shed light on critical links between ecosystem function and land-use practices. He and his colleagues were the first scientists to document the link between the combustion of fossil fuels and an increase in the acidity of precipitation in North America (acid rain). His findings have influenced policy makers, guided and motivated scientific studies, and increased public awareness of human-accelerated environmental change.
On 29 April 2006, Dr. Likens was elected to be a member of the American Philosophical Society. On 11 June 2003, the Asahi Glass Foundation announced that Dr. Likens was a co-recipient of the 2003 Blue Planet Prize for outstanding scientific research that helps to solve global environmental problems. Dr. Likens was awarded the distinction along with Dr. F. H. Bormann, his long-term collaborator in the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study in New Hampshire. The Asahi Glass Foundation aspires for the Blue Planet Prize to be recognized as the environmental equivalent of the Nobel Prize. In 2002, he was awarded the 2001 National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest science honor, for his contributions to the field of ecology.