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Andrew J. Read Named Director of Marine Lab

Marine mammal expert joined Duke faculty in 1995

Andy Read.jpg
Marine mammal researcher Andy Read

Andrew J. Read, the Stephen A. Toth Professor of Marine Biology at Duke, has been named director of the Duke University Marine Laboratory, effective July 1.

Duke Provost Sally Kornbluth announced Read’s appointment Wednesday following a national search.

Read succeeds Cindy L. Van Dover, who will continue on the faculty at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment as Harvey W. Smith Professor of Biological Oceanography.

“These are exciting times at the Marine Lab and I am confident Andy possesses the skills, scholarship and vision to guide its continued strategic growth in programs, facilities and enrollment,” Kornbluth said. “He’s an exemplary scientist, teacher, administrator and leader.”

Located on Pivers Island in Beaufort, North Carolina, the Marine Lab is a year-round research and teaching campus with academic programs at the undergraduate, masters and Ph.D. levels.  The lab is a unit within the Nicholas School and serves as administrative headquarters for the school’s Division of Marine Science and Conservation.  

Faculty at the Marine Lab are internationally cited for their research and teaching on marine systems, including the human component, and for their work to develop novel, effective approaches to marine and coastal conservation issues. 

In recent years, the lab has constructed two new LEED-certified research and teaching facilities and launched programs in marine biotechnology, geospatial analysis, molecular biology, bioacoustics and the use of drones in coastal and marine conservation to augment its traditional strengths in ecology, biology, oceanography and policy. It has also expanded its course offerings at the master’s and undergraduate levels, and increased opportunities for students to take part in hands-on research, field work and travel-based courses.

“We thrive on taking an interdisciplinary approach to identifying the next big challenges facing our oceans and planet, and then rolling up our sleeves and getting to work,” Read said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to build upon the strong foundation laid by Cindy Van Dover in her 10 years as director, and I look forward to addressing the challenges ahead with my colleagues and students at the Nicholas School, Dean Alan Townsend and the Duke administration.”

An expert on marine mammals, sea birds and sea turtles, Read has conducted field research in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Antarctica, and has published more than 150 peer-reviewed studies.

Much of his current work focuses on documenting the effects of human activities on marine species, and developing and applying new conservation tools to resolve such conflicts. He has served on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Cetacean Specialist Group and on the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee.

In 2015, Read was nominated by President Obama to serve as chairman of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, an independent agency that provides oversight for marine mammal policies and programs being carried out by federal regulatory agencies.

In addition to his research and outreach, Read teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in marine ecology and biology at the Marine Lab, advises doctoral and master’s students,  and Marine Mannal co-chairs the Coastal Environmental Management concentration within the Nicholas School’s Master of Environmental Management degree program. As Marine Lab director, he will chair the Nicholas School’s Division of Marine Science and Conservation.

“Andy’s commitment to the Marine Lab and his vision for its future, combined with his leadership experience and global reputation as a scientist, make him a terrific choice,” said Dean Alan Townsend. “We are thrilled that he has agreed to serve as the Duke Marine Lab’s next director.”

Read joined the Duke faculty in 1995.  He received his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctoral degree in marine biology from the University of Guelph in Canada, in 1980, 1983 and 1990, respectively.