Donald Boesch

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Donald Boesch
President of the
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Assumed office
Personal details
Born (1945-11-14) November 14, 1945 (age 71)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Alma mater Tulane University (B.S.)
College of William & Mary (Ph.D.)
Profession Biologist, Environmental Scientist
Website President

Donald Boesch (born November 14, 1945) is an American university professor, and President of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and Vice Chancellor for Environmental Sustainability for the University System of Maryland[1] In 2010, he was appointed by President Barack Obama as a member of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling[2] to investigate the root causes of the blowout at the Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico.

Boesch was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he grew up in the Ninth Ward[3] and experienced the flooding resulting from Hurricane Betsy. He attended Holy Cross High School and Tulane University, in that city, earning a B.S. in Biology. Boesch completed his Ph.D. in biological oceanography at the College of William of Mary in Virginia, after which he was a Fulbright-Hays Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia.

Boesch returned to the United States in 1972 and served as a professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. In 1990 he moved back to his home state as the first Executive Director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, where he was responsible for building its marine center at Cocodrie, Louisiana, and two research vessels, the Pelican and the Acadiana. During this time, he was also a professor of marine science at the Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He has headed the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science since 1990 and serves on the Maryland Governor’s Chesapeake Bay Cabinet.

Boesch has conducted research on coastal and continental shelf ecosystems along the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, eastern Australia and the East China Sea. He has published two books and more than 90 papers on marine benthos, estuarine and continental shelf ecology, wetlands, effects of offshore oil and gas development, nutrient over-enrichment, environmental assessment and science policy. While in Louisiana, he initiated the research that documented the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone and identified its principal causes. His current research focuses on the use of science in ecosystem-based management and on assessments and adaptation strategies related to climate change.[4]

Boesch has served on numerous committees advising federal agencies and the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, where he is chair of the Ocean Studies Board and a member of the Committee on America’s Climate Choices.[5] He also serves on the Ocean Research and Resources Advisory Board, the external committee providing technical advice to the National Ocean Council. In 2007 he was given the Award for Lifetime Leadership in Ecosystem Restoration by the National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration. He is a member of the governing boards of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Research Consortium, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, and the Town Creek Foundation.


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