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Environmental Science Professor Named Award of Excellence Recipient

The Lake Champlain Research Institute honored Dr. Ken Adams G’77 with its Award of Excellence.

The award has only been given once prior.

Adams, a SUNY distinguished teaching professor of environmental science who has been teaching on the campus for 31 years, is known for his ability to identify species. In fact, students have said that instead of wanting a pocket guide, they want a “Pocket Adams.”

“His knowledge of the woods and everything that lives there is encyclopedic,” said Dr. Kathy Lavoie, dean of arts and sciences, adding that Adams is “highly respected by generations of students.”

“Ken has had an outstanding career and done it the right way,” said Dr. Tim Mihuc, director of the LCRI. “And he has had an impressive impact on students.”

At the April 9 ceremony, Mihuc quoted a number of Adams’ former students, including Kevin Juneau, a 2003 graduate, who is currently working on his Ph.D. at Michigan Tech.

Juneau said that, before he met Adams, he had never taken a series of classes just because of the person teaching. That changed under Adams.

“His classes were my first introductions into the world of plant science, and, after that, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in plant science.”

Neil Gifford, who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the college and is now a conservation director for the Albany Pine Brush Preserve Commission, mentioned how students would call Adams “Zen Ken.”

“He was the best mentor anyone could ask for,” Gifford said.

When Gifford was stressed out about grades and career prospects, Adams’ advice was simple: “Stop worrying about grades and money. Follow your passion and enjoy learning.”

“To this day I can’t remember working so hard and having so much fun doing it,” Gifford said.

Adams plans to retire at the end of this school year.

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