NOAA Fisheries Chief Scientist Joins USF

Steve Murawski will hold the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership - Peter R. Betzer Endowed Chair.


By Vickie Chachere News Manager


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Nov. 1, 2010) – Steve Murawski, the director of scientific programs and chief science advisor for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service and a key figure in the nation’s scientific response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, is joining the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science as a research professor.


Murawski will hold the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership - Peter R. Betzer Endowed Chair.


Murawski, an internationally-recognized expert on marine ecosystems and natural resource conservation efforts, will begin his new duties in January, USF Provost Ralph Wilcox announced Monday.


The University of South Florida is delighted to welcome a scientist of Dr. Murawski’s stature to our College of Marine Science,” Wilcox said. “His commitment to strengthening interdisciplinary collaboration across colleges and his proven worldwide leadership in oceanographic research align well with USF’s priorities.


“Moreover, his first-hand familiarity with the work of federal agencies and his extensive experience in policy development will add an essential dimension to the educational preparation of future marine scientists. Above all, he will make distinctive contributions to the college’s focus on better understanding and sustaining the health of our oceans.”    


William Hogarth, dean of USF’s College of Marine Science, said: “I have worked with Steve for almost 20 years and during this time I have learned that Steve is not only an excellent scientist, but is a skilled consensus builder.


 “With the many opportunities facing the Gulf of Mexico, USF’s College of Marine Science is striving to bring the oceanographic disciplines together with the biological sciences to better understand the behavior of marine organisms - especially fisheries on which Florida’s economy depends. Steve will bring a vast amount of national as well as international experience to the table to help us move the college forward.”


As chief fisheries scientist since 2005, Murawski has been responsible for overseeing NOAA’s 25 laboratories, the use of 11 research vessels and the activities of more than 2,000 scientists and staff throughout the United States. The mission of NOAA’s scientific program is to provide a scientific basis for conservation and management of marine resources and ecosystems.  Murawski also has served as member and acting chair of NOAA’s Research Council comprised of all NOAA elements to coordinate research policy.


Murawski became a familiar figure as a key chief scientific coordinator for NOAA’s response to the Gulf oil spill. He most recently co-lead two-days of scientific meetings which gathered leading researchers from around the country at St. Pete Beach to compare early findings and chart future research efforts. He has traveled to USF’s College of Marine Science during the crisis to consult with colleagues at the university, review findings on deep-sea plumes of degraded oil discovered in a joint USF-NOAA effort and to deliver a presentation to faculty and students on the extent, fate and known damage of the BP disaster.


 “I am pleased to be able to join the world-class marine sciences faculty at the University of South Florida and to work at the intersection of multiple scientific disciplines important for understanding the oceans,” Murawski said.  “The oceans are vital to the economy and well being of all Floridians, the nation, and the world.  Protecting them and enhancing the services ocean ecosystems deliver is a central role of marine science -- and the university is a leader in this field.”


Murawski previously served as Director of the Office and Science and Technology for Fisheries, and as chief stock assessment scientist for the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Mass. His research background includes fisheries biology and stock assessment, and he is the author of more than 150 peer-reviewed articles and reports in leading scientific journals.


Murawski serves as the official U.S. delegate and vice president of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, an international marine science coordination body representing more than 1,600 scientists, 200 institutes and 20 member nations; and is co-chair of the White House’s Interagency Joint Sub-Committee on Ocean Science and Technology.


Murawski also served as a NOAA representative in the development of the Administration’s National Ocean Policy recently announced by President Obama.


Among the many honors he has received in his career are the Presidential Meritorious Service Award; the Department of Commerce Gold Medal; NOAA Fisheries Employee of the Year; four NOAA Bronze Medal Awards; the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Department of Natural Resource Conservation, University of Massachusetts; and the David Belding Marine Conservation Award from the Massachusetts Divisions of Marine Fisheries.


Murawski received his Ph.D. in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1984; as well as a 1976 M.S. in Fisheries Biology and a B.S. in Fishery Biology.


A native of Massachusetts, Murawski and his wife Joni are the parents of two adult daughters.


The St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership-Peter R. Betzer Endowed Chair dates back to the 1980s effort to bolster marine science efforts in the city and attract top-flight scientists. Betzer is the former USF Marine College of Marine Science dean who now serves as CEO and President of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership.


Vickie Chachere can be reached at 813-974-6251.