Bigelow Laboratory appoints new president and CEO

Deborah Bronk to begin leading the nonprofit institute in March 2018
Posted:  Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - 2:45pm

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences announced today 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 on March 1, 2018.

“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,” said Louise Bowditch, chair of the board of trustees. “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.

She first visited Bigelow Laboratory in June 2016 to deliver a scientific lecture, and she 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 start-up 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 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 percent.

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."