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

Bronk is currently the Moses D. Nunnally Distinguished Professor of Marine Sciences and department chair at Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Gloucester Point, Virginia. 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, Bigelow said in a news release.

“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 will succeed Graham Shimmield, who held the position for nine years before his death 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, it said, completing a new student residence hall and increasing research revenue by more than 30 percent.

Bronk first visited Bigelow 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,” she 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.”

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

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