Professor Len Ferrington remembered as a gentleman and a scholar


by Lucinda Johnson, Jim Perry and Bruce Vondracek

Dr. Leonard C. Ferrington, Jr.  passed away unexpectedly on September 11, 2021. Len was an engaging personality and well-known prolific researcher.  Len’s open and engaging personality always made research with colleagues enjoyable and scientifically productive.  He worked in or collaborated with colleagues from 52 countries. Len's research program consisted of five areas of emphasis: taxonomy and systematics, biodiversity studies, responses of aquatic insects to various types of pollution, their roles in stream ecology, and sustainability.  His research approach was to understand the ecological framework within which evolutionary processes have operated to produce the biological diversity in a group of aquatic flies. Len spent the early part of his career at the University of Kansas before moving to the University of Minnesota in 2000. His recent work focused on characterizing climate change impacts to Minnesota’s groundwater-fed streams in southern Minnesota. Len recently was elected to a select scientific group:  The Fellows of the Society of Freshwater Science.  Fellows are leaders, at national and international levels, of their areas of freshwater science.  Len served as president of the society when it was the North American Benthological Society. He was a constant presence at the annual meetings and was known to welcome and mentor students and early career members, and was among the first on the dance floor at every banquet.  In addition to his significant contributions to research, Len was an excellent and well-liked teacher who taught a diversity of classes.  Beyond his teaching and research contributions, Len was a very well-known dancer who competed nationally in several forms of dance. Throughout his career, Len lived and demonstrated to all his core philosophy of advancing knowledge through science, mentoring and art.

Read about Len's midge research in Minnegram: Winter-hatching midges: tiny indicators of the impacts of climate change