LSA Dean Andrew Martin has appointed U-M Biological Station alumna Dr. Linda Greer to be the station’s Interim Director for one year beginning September 1, 2016. Director Knute Nadelhoffer will be on sabbatical leave during that time.
Greer is presently a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Her focus is on toxic chemicals in air, water, food, and shelter. Most recently, she has led NRDC’s work on industrial pollution abroad. In China, her mercury use inventory became the basis for a binding treaty -- in whose negotiations Greer participated -- to reduce mercury use and release around the world. She now heads an NRDC initiative that pushes multinational corporations to assume responsibility for the environmental impacts of their supply chain in China.
Greer also sits on the National Academy of Science's Board of Environmental Studies and Toxicology. She has been a member of the UMBS External Advisory Board since 2014.
Martin quickly saw Greer’s experiences as transferable to the University setting. “Linda brings strong experience in managing multi-dimensional environmental projects,” Martin wrote in his announcement of Greer’s appointment. “Her membership on the Biological Station's Advisory Board also provides her with a deep understanding of the Station's mission.”
Greer attended the Biological Station for the first time in 1974. She was an undergraduate at Tufts University. Family friend and Southeastern Massachusetts University Professor John Reardon, himself a UMBS alum, encouraged Greer to take field classes at the station. That first summer she took Algae with Rex Lowe and Biology of Parasites with Donald Wootton. She was hooked. “I immediately loved the rustic tin shacks. And everyone milling around was dressed in rags and completely at home and comfortable in the outdoors, which fit me to a tee.” She returned the next summer to take two more classes.
Beginning in 1977, Greer and a team of other students began a series of integrated projects at UMBS entitled Community Lakes Environmental Awareness and Research (CLEAR). From 1977-1981 the CLEAR group performed water quality assessments on various Northern Michigan lake watersheds. A key feature of the program was student involvement of local property owners and lake associations in environmental monitoring and measurement.
Project CLEAR’s legacy in northern Michigan is the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, which grew out of CLEAR’s initial organization. It also lives on at UMBS in the Project CLEAR Fellowship, initiated in 2014 by Greer and other project members, which supports students doing applied aquatic research with an outreach and education component.
“My top priority for the Station is to draw more and more students to classes and research,” Greer says. “The Station had a major impact on my own academic interests and career, and I’d like to provide that experience to as many current students as possible.”
Closing the Circle
By the time Project CLEAR concluded its work, Greer had earned her M.S.P.H. in Environmental Science and Engineering from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health. She received her Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from the University of Maryland in 1989.
Greer’s policy bona fides are as strong as her science background. She performed regulatory analysis at Environmental Defense Fund and oversaw a review of scientific research programs at the U.S. EPA. She worked as a microbiologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She has also taught at Vermont Law School and University of Maryland Law School.
Nadelhoffer heartily endorses Greer's appointment. “Her student experiences at the station, her application of field-based research to identifying and solving environmental problems, and her engagement with the Biological Station as an active alumna and, more recently, as a member of the station’s Advisory Board indicate she has the scientific, management and professional skills to successfully direct the station as it expands course offerings through our new, 5-year, U-M Third Century Initiative award.”
Having seen the full range of domestic and global environmental problems through her work, Greer says she is at a point in her career where she’s interested in working with the next generation of environmental professionals. “To shape their training, to prepare them to solve these problems, and to do this at the Station, the place where it all started for me when I was 19 years old, is a real gift,” she says.