Dr. Susan Shaw is a marine toxicologist, author, explorer, ocean advocate, and founder/director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute (MERI). She is known for three decades of pioneering research documenting harmful impacts of man-made chemicals on marine life, including widespread contamination of North Atlantic marine mammals by toxic flame retardants.
Born in Dallas, Texas, Shaw received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas in 1967 with a major in Plan II, an interdisciplinary honors program modeled after the Harvard Society of Fellows Program. Selected for the UT-Chilean Exchange Program in 1964, she spent a year in Chile as a Fulbright Scholar. She earned an MFA degree in Film from Columbia University in 1970, and a doctorate in Public Health/Environmental Health Sciences (Dr.P.H.) from Columbia University’s School of Public Health in 1999.
An outspoken and influential voice on ocean pollution, Shaw dove in the Gulf of Mexico oil slick in 2010 and focused the national debate on the hazards of chemical dispersants. Her research continues to influence public health and toxics policy in the U.S. and abroad.
She serves on the Strategic Sciences Working Group (SSWG), the U.S. Department of the Interior’s team of 14 scientists charged with developing a science-based assessment of the 2010 oil spill and its consequences, including the long-term health impacts of the oil and dispersants on marine life and people.
A Fulbright Scholar and recipient of numerous awards, Shaw was named Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment representing the New England states and Atlantic Canada. In 2010, she was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellowship and MORE magazine’s “Noisemaker” Award for her work in the Gulf of Mexico. Shaw has been a member of SWG since 2007.