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WHOI Scientist Selected As Leopold Leadership Fellow

Christ Reddy (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

March 20, 2006

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientist Christopher Reddy has been chosen one of 18 academic environmental scientists from throughout the U.S. and Canada as a 2006 Leopold Leadership Fellow.

The Aldo Leopold Leadership Program provides scientists with intensive communications and leadership training to enhance their ability to communicate effectively with non-scientific audiences, especially policy makers, the media, business leaders and the public. Up to twenty Fellows are selected annually through a competitive application process. They spend two weeks in intensive training, one week in Connecticut in June that includes practice interviews with journalists and one week in Washington, DC in September where they practice giving testimony at a mock Congressional hearing. The 2006 Fellows represent a broad range of environmental science disciplines, from oceanography to atmospheric sciences, tropical forest ecology, and anthropology.

Chris Reddy is an associate scientist in the WHOI Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry. He received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Rhode Island College in 1992 and a Ph.D. degree in chemical oceanography from the University of Rhode Island in 1997.  Reddy joined the WHOI staff in 1997  and studies marine pollution, oil spills, and environmental chemistry in coastal marine systems throughout the United States.

His research interests revolve around understanding the source, transport, and fate of contaminants in coastal and oceanic waters. Specifically, he studies the short and long term fate of oil spills; how microbes clean-up contaminated areas; the sources of molecules emitted from forest fires, automobile exhaust, and smokestacks; and natural and human-made compounds found in marine mammals.

Reddy is a Fellow of the Institution's Coastal Ocean Institute and serves on the editorial board of the journal Marine Environmental Researchand as associate editor of Environmental Forensics. He has testified on oil spills for the Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and for the United States Coast Guard at rulemaking hearings, and was a reviewer for the National Academy of Science 2001 report Spills of Emulsified Fuels: Risks and Responses.  He has participated in the WHOI Ocean Science Journalism Fellowship program for journalists, and as a member of a panel of scientists and journalists for the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting at the University of Rhode Island.

Reddy says he applied for the fellowship because he felt a responsibility to communicate clear, unbiased and balanced information to non-scientific audiences. “Many scientists find it difficult to explain their research or provide answers to questions about what they do in ways the public can understand," he said.  "It is critical for me to convey the importance of environmental chemistry and how it relates to problems in the ocean. Reporters, policymakers, and the general public look at oil spills, pollution in the ocean and other environmental contaminants like PCBs, flame retardants or chemicals used in manufacturing from different perspectives. The levels of understanding vary, yet much of the basic information they all need is the same. I want to learn to be more effective in explaining what I am doing and what my colleagues are doing. I want to reduce the confusion and frustration in communications between scientists and the public, and help non-scientific audiences understand how environmental chemistry fits into the bigger picture."

Senior Scientist Scott Doney, also from the WHOI Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department, was a Leopold Leadership Fellow in 2004.

The Aldo Leopold Leadership Program was launched in 1998 with the goal of improving the flow of accurate, clear scientific information to policy makers, the media and the public by training outstanding academic environmental scientists to be better communicators of complex scientific information. More than 100 scientists have participated in the program, funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.  Now based at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment, the program is named for Aldo Leopold, a renowned environmental scientist and writer. His 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, and other writings are credited with infusing the emerging conservation movement with good science and a stewardship ethic.

WHOI is a private, independent marine research and engineering, and higher education organization located in Falmouth, MA. Its primary mission is to understand the oceans and their interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean's role in the changing global environment. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, the Institution is organized into five departments, interdisciplinary institutes and a marine policy center, and conducts a joint graduate education program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.