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Dr. Susan Roberts (Keynote Speaker)
Director of the Ocean Studies Board at the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Susan Roberts is the Director of the Ocean Studies Board at the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. She started her career at the Academies as a Program Officer in 1998 and became the Director of the Ocean Studies Board in 2004. She has overseen National Academies’ studies on topics covering a broad range of ocean science, marine resource management, and science policy issues. Her research publications include studies on fish physiology and biochemistry, marine bacterial symbioses, and cell and developmental biology. Dr. Roberts received her Ph.D. in Marine Biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Prior to her position at the Ocean Studies Board, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley and as a senior staff fellow at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. She served on the editorial panels for the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission’s Global Ocean Science Report (2017) and the Global Ocean Science Report 2020. Dr. Roberts is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Washington Academy of Science.


Dr. Charles A. Wilson, III (Keynote Speaker)
Chief Science Officer of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI)
Emeritus Professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences
Executive Director Emeritus Louisiana Sea Grant Louisiana State University (LSU)

Charles A. Wilson, III is currently Chief Science Officer of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI), and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, and Executive Director Emeritus Louisiana Sea Grant Louisiana State University (LSU). During his twenty-seven year tenure at LSU, Dr. Wilson served as Chair of the Department of Oceanography, Vice Provost in LSU’s Office of Academic Affairs and Executive Director of Louisiana Sea Grant. His diverse and rigorous research program on the biota of the northern Gulf of Mexico has resulted in numerous publications scores of technical reports focused primarily on marine fish life history and the impact of oil and gas development on fish populations. For the past 5 years he has been employed by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance where he serves as Chief Science Officer (science director) for GOMRI which is a 10 year, $500,000,000 program funded by BP to study the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on the marine environment.

In 2012 Dr Wilson founded Navy Cove Oysters LLC, a for profit oyster research farm. The farm operates near the mouth of Mobile Bay Alabama on the Fort Morgan peninsula and produces @ 200,000 oysters per year.


Dr. Rita R. Colwell (Plenary Speaker)
Distinguished University Professor
University of Maryland College Park
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
President and Chairman, CosmosID, Inc.

Dr. Rita Colwell’s interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water, and health and Dr. Colwell developed an international network to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues, including safe drinking water for both the developed and developing world, in collaboration with Safe Water Network, headquartered in New York City.

Dr. Colwell served as the 11th Director of the National Science Foundation, 1998-2004. In her capacity as NSF Director, she served as Co-chair of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council. One of her major interests includes K-12 science and mathematics education, graduate science and engineering education, and increased participation of women and minorities in science and engineering. Dr. Colwell served as President of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and Professor of Microbiology and Biotechnology at the University Maryland. She was also a member of the National Science Board from 1984 to 1990.

Dr. Colwell has been awarded 63 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education, including her Alma Mater, Purdue University and is the recipient of the 2005 Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, bestowed by the Emperor of Japan, the 2006 National Medal of Science awarded by the President of the United States, the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize awarded by the King of Sweden, the 2017 Vannevar Bush Award from the National Science Foundation, the 2017 International Prize for Biology from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the 2017 Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (“Knight of the Legion of Honor”) bestowed by the Ambassador of France, and the 2018 Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize of Singapore. Dr. Colwell is an honorary member of the microbiological societies of the UK, Australia, France, India, Israel, Bangladesh, and the U.S. and has held several honorary professorships, including the University of Queensland, Australia. A geological site in Antarctica, Colwell Massif, has been named in recognition of her work in the Polar Regions.

Dr. Colwell has held many advisory positions in the U.S. Government, nonprofit science policy organizations, and private foundations, as well as in the international scientific research community. She is a nationally-respected scientist and educator, and has authored or co-authored 20 books and more than 800 scientific publications. She produced the award-winning film, Invisible Seas, and has served on editorial boards of numerous scientific journals. She serves as Chair of the Research Board for the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (2010-2020).

Dr. Colwell has previously served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Academy of Microbiology and also as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Washington Academy of Sciences, the American Society for Microbiology, the Sigma Xi National Science Honorary Society, the International Union of Microbiological Societies, and the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS). Dr. Colwell is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal Irish Academy, the Bangladesh Academy of Science, the Indian Academy of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

Born in Beverly, Massachusetts, Dr. Colwell holds a B.S. in Bacteriology and an M.S. in Genetics, from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Washington.


Dr. Roger Prince (Keynote Speaker)
ExxonMobil (retired)

Dr. Roger Prince was a Senior Research Associate with ExxonMobil Biomedical Sciences Inc. in Annandale, New Jersey until he retired 2016. He was Exxon’s lead scientist in the monitoring of the successful bioremediation of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, and also did field work on experimental spills in the Arctic. Prior to joining ExxonMobil he was a visiting faculty member at the University of California in Berkeley, and on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. He has published more than 380 papers and chapters in the refereed literature, and was awarded Stanford’s Farrel W. Lytle Prize for Contributions to Synchrotron Spectroscopy in 2000, the North Jersey ACS Chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007, and the Waksman Honorary Lectureship of the Theobald Smith Society (ASM) in 2013.