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October 26, 2017

Bigelow Lab appoints new president and CEO

Courtesy / Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Courtesy / Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Deborah Bronk, who's been named the next president and CEO of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, speaks with a student in her laboratory at Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. In March 2018, Bronk will assume the leadership of Bigelow Laboratory.

About Bigelow Laboratory

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is an independent, nonprofit research institute on the coast of Maine. Its research ranges from the microscopic life at the bottom of marine food webs to large-scale ocean processes that affect the entire planet. Recognized as a leader in Maine's emerging innovation economy, the laboratory's research, education and technology transfer programs are contributing to significant economic growth.

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences announced that its board of trustees has appointed Deborah Bronk to be its next president and CEO. She will assume her new role at the nonprofit marine research institute in East Boothbay on March 1, 2018.

She will succeed Graham Shimmield, who held the position for nine years before he died in December 2016.

Ben Twining, vice president for research and education at Bigelow Laboratory, has served as interim president and CEO since that time. Despite the transitions, the research institute has continued to grow steadily during the last year, completing a new student residence hall and increasing research revenue by more than 30%.

"Debbie's passion for our oceans, scientific credentials, and national leadership experience will be invaluable as we work to understand the sea and its potential to unlock opportunities for Maine and the world," Louise Bowditch, chair of the board of trustees, said in a statement announcing Bronk's appointment. "She is already a well-respected leader among our scientists and the countless other researchers she has worked with throughout her distinguished career."

Bronk is currently the Moses D. Nunnally Distinguished Professor of Marine Sciences and department chair at Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. She previously served as division director for the National Science Foundation's Division of Ocean Science and as president of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.

Impressed by Bigelow’s ‘unique approach’

She first visited Bigelow Laboratory in June 2016 to deliver a scientific lecture, and said she immediately fell in love with its unique approach to science, education and enterprise.

"Bigelow Laboratory's collaborative philosophy and scientific programs are more akin to a Silicon Valley startup than an ocean science institute," Bronk said. "This is the way science needs to be done in the future, and the scientists, staff and trustees of Bigelow Laboratory had the vision and tenacity to make it a reality today."

Bronk earned a doctorate in marine-estuarine and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland. She has more than two decades of experience as a professor and an oceanographer. During that time, she has conducted more than 50 research cruises and field studies in freshwater and marine environments that stretch from pole to pole.

"I have visited marine laboratories around the world, and I have never seen interactions between scientists that are as dynamic as those at Bigelow Laboratory," Bronk said. "I am ecstatic about the opportunity to help them continue their impressive momentum."

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