James Sullivan

FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

James Sullivan, executive director of Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, is one of five appointees to the state’s new Blue-Green Algae Task Force, an entity that will focus on supporting restoration initiatives for reducing nutrients in Lake Okeechobee. As such, he is poised to help improve the quality of life in coastal communities plagued by Harmful Algal Blooms, or HABs. “South Florida is one the most-negatively affected areas in the United States from Harmful Algal Blooms,” he says. “While this is not a desirable situation for any of us, it does provide an opportunity for scientists and politicians in the state to be national and international leaders in how to manage and solve the HAB problem.” Sullivan earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in biological oceanography, with specializations in phytoplankton physiology and ecology, from the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. He has spent most of his 30-plus-year career studying phytoplankton (algae) and developing sensors to better understand its growth. “As a child, I spent many summers at the beach and developed a love for the ocean and understanding how it functioned,” he says. “My challenge now is getting adequate funding to conduct the critical research we know needs to be done.”

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