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December 28, 2016

Executive director of Bigelow Lab dies at 58

Photo / Greta Rybus, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences Graham Shimmield, executive director of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, died on Dec. 24 after battling cancer. He is shown in this February 2016 file photo walking through a new research center on the East Boothbay campus.

Graham Shimmield, executive director of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, died Dec. 24 after a hard-fought battle with cancer. A globally recognized leader in oceanography, Shimmield served in his role at Bigelow Laboratory since 2008.

During his tenure, he transformed the organization, building upon its longstanding scientific reputation to develop a $32 million marine research and education campus in East Boothbay, which opened in 2012, along with a $6 million residence facility that will open in spring 2017.

“Graham was an accomplished scientist, a visionary leader, and a kind and compassionate human being who changed our organization and our lives,” said Ben Twining, a vice president and senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory, said in an obituary posted on the lab’s website. “We were very lucky to have him at the helm for the last nine years.”

Twining is now serving as acting executive director.

In a February 2016 interview with Mainebiz Senior Writer Lori Valigra, Shimmield spoke about Bigelow’s two new Centers for Venture Research and how they would apply business and project management techniques to its ocean-related research projects to get them into public use more quickly. "This is a more organized approach to translating research for public use," he told Mainebiz.

He added that the centers aim to bridge the gap between what scientists know about the ocean and how that knowledge can be used in policy decisions, for public understanding, for ocean-based products and solutions and ultimately to help boost the state's economy and jobs.

Memorial service planned in spring

“Under Graham's leadership, Bigelow Laboratory has nearly doubled in size, developed significant education programs, launched a successful philanthropy program to support our work, and increased the reach and impact of our science through expanded outreach and our Centers for Venture Research,” Twining said. “Graham was committed to contributing to innovation and growth in Maine's economy through our research and partnerships around the state.”

Bigelow Laboratory plans to arrange a celebration of Shimmield’s life in the spring, and it will provide the details of that event at a later date.

To help support his legacy, Bigelow has established an endowment fund in Shimmield’s honor. Contributions to the Dr. Graham Shimmield Endowment Fund may be sent to Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, P.O. Box 380, East Boothbay, ME, 04544.

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