Vic Klemas has spent most of his career living near the mid-Atlantic shore, but he’s learned he’ll soon enjoy a prestigious homecoming to his native country — and the coast of the Baltic Sea.
The professor emeritus of oceanography has been elected to the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, the highest autonomous institution of science and culture in the country.
“The academy is limited to about 120 members,” said Klemas, who was born in Klaipeda, Lithuania. “They only have about a dozen overseas members. To be among those is a privilege.”
He will give an inaugural address to academy members and special guests, including the U.S. ambassador to Lithuania, in Vilnius Thursday, May 22.
His lecture, titled “Remote Sensing of Coastal Ecosystems,” will focus on his primary research area. During Klemas’ tenure as professor in the College of Marine and Earth Studies, he directed the Center for Remote Sensing for 30 years and chaired the Applied Ocean Science Program from 1981 to 1998. He’s also published more than 100 scientific papers, served on a number of U.S. National Academy of Science panels, and advised various government agencies in the United States and overseas.
While his research has spanned the globe, his interest in Baltic Sea and Lithuanian environmental issues has remained strong. In 2006 he received a Fulbright Scholar Program grant to teach ocean remote sensing at Klaipeda University. He currently is organizing international symposia on Baltic Sea monitoring and modeling problems, the third conference of this kind that he’s helped organize.
Klemas, who joined the UD faculty in 1971, said he plans to take part in special committees within the academy related to his research areas.
The honor, which is a milestone in an accomplished career, brings back fond memories for Klemas. Reflecting on his childhood experiences in Lithuania, he recalled the times his parents took him to the beaches of the Baltic Sea.
“They were very wide and sandy, surrounded by pine forests somewhat like Cape Henlopen,” he said. “There was always a northwest wind. I remember the first thing I had to do was to take my shovel and build a sand wall for my parents to protect them from the wind.”
To learn more about the College of Marine and Earth Studies, visit www.ocean.udel.edu.