Oceanographer to Lead NOAA Great Lakes Laboratory

September 10, 2009

Dr. Marie Colton.

Dr. Marie Colton.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

A physical oceanographer who worked with satellites to generate climate, weather, and water products for operational and research use, will be the director of NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich. Marie Colton, Ph.D., who has been acting director since January, takes the permanent position on October 11.

“Our Great Lakes laboratory plays a major role in helping NOAA and the nation address freshwater issues, including climate change, water resource management, invasive species, and human health. So we looked for someone with a broad range of experience and we were delighted that Dr. Colton was eager to continue,” said Richard W. Spinrad, Ph.D, NOAA assistant administrator for oceanic and atmospheric research.

GLERL is one of the seven NOAA research laboratories that are under NOAA’s research office. The laboratory is the only one to focus on the Great Lakes.

“This is an opportunity for me to return to the Midwest where I grew up and get back to Great Lakes issues,” said Colton, who lives in Virginia. “My priorities include developing ecological forecasts to predict changes such as harmful algal blooms, beach and water quality, and invasive species impacts.”

Colton holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the Florida Institute of Technology (1978, 1981) and a doctorate from the Naval Postgraduate School (1989). She did her dissertation research on Lake Ontario.

During her career she has been an aerospace engineer at NASA, a physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory, an oceanographer at the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, and center director of NOAA’s satellite service. While serving as acting director of GLERL, Colton also worked as technical director for NOAA’s Ocean Service, where she oversaw all of the science and technology enterprise from hydrographic mapping to ecology.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.