Graham Shimmield, executive director and president of the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, will present his talk “Challenging Times & Changing Oceans” on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 7-8:30 p.m. at the Camden Public Library.  This event is free and open to all.

During the 20th century alone, the population in the world has grown from 1.65 billion to over 7 billion—where will all the food protein and drinking water come from in the future? Over 30 percent of our global fish stocks are overexploited. There is no part of the ocean that does not have the fingerprint of human impact or contamination, even though the oceans cover 71 percent of the earth.

Within the next decade the Arctic will be a routine thoroughfare for summer shipping from Europe and the eastern seaboard of North America to Asia, while melting sea ice impacts ecosystems and native populations. The oceans have ameliorated the worst excesses of fossil fuel burning by adsorbing excess CO2, but are now showing the concerning effects of acidification.

However, the oceans also offer opportunities. Energy from tide, wind, heat and algal biofuel (via sunlight and photosynthesis) may become a viable alternative to fossil fuel. Less than 2 percent of the microbes in the ocean can be cultivated in the laboratory rendering a vast potential of marine genetic resources waiting to be discovered for biotechnological and biomedical research through new scientific techniques and discoveries.

Against this backdrop of oceans that are going through the most profound and rapid changes since the earth’s creation is the opportunity afforded by fundamental and applied research, and especially the study of microbial life from the ocean surface to the abyss. Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is a world leader in the field of microbial oceanography spanning biogeochemistry, genomics, ecology and ocean climate change.

In his presentation, Graham Shimmield will describe some of the latest research in microbial oceanography, how such research offers insight and potential solutions to the challenges described above, and fundamentally, why the oceans matter to everyone.

Shimmield received a Ph.D. in Marine Geochemistry from the University of Edinburgh in 1985 and was appointed to a faculty position as lecturer in chemical oceanography in 1984, and promoted to reader in 1995. In 1996, he moved institution becoming the director of Scottish Association of Marine Science at the Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory, a post he held for 12 years. Currently, he is the executive director and president of the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, since March 2008.

Shimmield’s particular interest is in marine geochemistry, which includes the fundamental studies of geochemical processes operating in ancient oceans through identifying indicators of ocean and climate change (palaeoceanography), the biogeochemical cycling of modern oceans using naturally-occurring radioisotopes, and examining human impacts and contamination in coastal and deep seas.

In 2000, he was awarded the title of honorary professor at the University of St Andrews. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1998), and the Society of Biology (1999). He has published over 65 scientific peer-reviewed articles. Since arriving in Maine, Shimmield is serving on the boards of the Maine Innovation Economy Advisory Board, Maine Space Grant and Maine Sea Grant and advisory boards for Maine Maritime Academy and Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory. Recently, he was elected to the board of trustees for the national Consortium for Ocean Leadership. In November 2011, he was named by MaineBiz as one of ten “Nexters” helping to shape the future of Maine’s economy.

This event is offered as a free community event in in anticipation of the 27th Annual Camden Conference:The Global Politics of Food and Water, February 21-23, 2014.