Climate Change and the News: Impacts on Coastal and Marine Environments Speaker Bios

 Agenda & Speaker Presentations | Speaker Bios | Participant List | Resources List
Seminar on Climate Policy & Economics | Climate Change and the News Initiative

April 24-25, 2014
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C.

Speaker Bios

Nicholas Bianco leads World Resources Institute’s efforts with U.S. states and U.S. federal agencies as they work together and in parallel to develop programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He has advised the states, provinces and stakeholders engaged in the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord and the Western Climate Initiative. His current areas of research include: the role of states in future federal climate programs; opportunities for, and implications of, regulation of greenhouse gas emissions via existing regulatory authorities; and stacking of payments for ecosystem services (e.g., greenhouse gas offsets). Bianco previously worked with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection on climate change and air quality programs. While there, he worked on several market-based air quality and climate change programs, including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a CO2 cap-and-trade program adopted by ten Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Bianco holds a Masters degree in environmental studies from Brown University and a Bachelors degree in biochemistry from Muhlenberg College.

Seth Borenstein is a national science writer for The Associated Press, the world’s largest news organization, covering issues ranging from climate change to astronomy. He is the winner of numerous journalism awards, including the National Journalism Award for environment reporting in 2007 from the Scripps Foundation and the Outstanding Beat Reporting award from the Society of Environmental Journalists in 2008 and 2004. He was part of an AP Gulf of Mexico oil spill reporting team that won the 2010 George Polk Award for Environment Reporting and a 2011 Grantham Award of Special Merit. He was part of a team of finalists for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Columbia space shuttle disaster. A science and environmental journalist for more than 25 years, covering everything from hurricanes to space shuttle launches, Borenstein has also worked for Knight Ridder Newspapers’ Washington Bureau, The Orlando Sentinel, and the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. He is the co-author of three out-of-print books, two on hurricanes and one on popular science. He has flown in zero gravity and once tried out for Florida Marlins (unsuccessfully). Borenstein also teaches journalism at the New York University’s Washington, DC, campus.

Sarah Cooley is a science outreach manager in the Ocean Acidification program at the Ocean Conservancy. She received her Ph.D. in marine science from University of Georgia, where she studied the chemistry of the offshore Amazon River plume. As ocean acidification scientist in the Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Program at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, she used oceanographic and social science data to forecast the total consequences of ocean acidification on human communities. These included tracking changes in the marine environment as well as the benefits to humans such as economic revenue and protein supply that marine ecosystems provide. At Ocean Conservancy, Cooley continues this work and also communicates about ocean acidification to a variety of stakeholders to bring current science into decision-making about ocean acidification.

Philip B. Duffy is a senior advisor at the U.S. Global Change Research Program. In 2011 and 2012 he was a senior policy analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In both of these roles he has been on loan from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he is a senior scientist. From 2008 to 2011, Duffy served as senior scientist, principal scientist, and chief scientist at Climate Central, an NGO dedicated to communicating climate science to the public. As a research scientist, Duffy has over 75 peer-reviewed papers on climate modeling, analysis of climate observations, and societal impacts of climate change. He has contributed to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in several roles, most recently as a US government delegate. Duffy has a B.S. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford.

Chris E. Forest joined the faculty in the Department of Meteorology at The Pennsylvania State University in 2008, after 12 years as a research scientist at MIT working in the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. Primarily, Forest wants to understand the uncertainty of climate projections and their relation with uncertainty in forcing parameters as well as climate system feedbacks controlling both the magnitude and rate of the response. This work contributes to uncertainty estimates of future climate in which emissions scenarios for stabilization are considered in addition to business-as-usual scenarios. Forest is currently exploring how to characterize uncertainty in regional climate change and how these uncertainties should be included in climate change impacts relevant to decision-making and policy development. He is a co-PI on the NSF-sponsored Network for Sustainable Climate Risk Management ( located at The Pennsylvania State University and linked to over 10 institutions across the world.  He served as a lead author on the Climate Change Science Program SAP1.1 Report, contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report 4, Working Group 1, Chapter 11, and is currently a lead author on Chapter 9 of the IPCC AR5 WG1. Forest graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1990 with a B.S. in applied math, engineering, and physics and from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1996 with a Ph.D. in meteorology (thesis advisors: Kerry A. Emanuel and Peter Molnar).

Jessica Grannis is the adaptation program manager for the Georgetown Climate Center and is a staff attorney and adjunct professor at the Harrison Institute for Public Law, at Georgetown University Law Center. Grannis oversees staff and student research and analysis of federal, state and local adaptation efforts. Her recent publications include an Adaptation Tool Kit for Sea Level Rise (2012) and a book chapter on Coastal Retreat in the Law of Climate Change: U.S. and International Aspects (2012, with Peter Byrne). Prior to joining the Harrison Institute, she was staff counsel for the California State Coastal Conservancy and the Ocean Protection Council. She holds a B.A. in history from the University of Chicago; a J.D. , Cum Laude, from University of California Hastings College of the Law; and a L.L.M, with honors, from Georgetown Law.

Roger Griffis is the climate coordinator for the Office of Science & Technology within the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) where he has worked since 2010. In this capacity he plans and coordinates NMFS, NOAA and interagency efforts to understand and address climate impacts on marine ecosystems with a focus on enabling the management of U.S. living marine resources to understand, be prepared for, and respond to climate impacts. Griffis is a marine ecologist who has experience in design and implementation of a variety of NOAA programs and policies on ocean and coastal resource management. He has worked at the NOAA level in policy and strategic planning and led formation and implementation of NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program from 2000-2007. He also has experience working in the NMFS Office of Habitat Conservation where he led efforts to assess and respond to impacts of climate change on coastal and ocean habitats.

Ben Horton is a professor at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Science of Rutgers University and a visiting professor at the Earth Observatory of Singapore and Division of Earth Sciences of Nanyang Technological University. His research concerns sea-level change. He aims to understand and integrate the external and internal mechanisms that have determined sea-level changes in the past, and which will shape such changes in the future. Horton has published over 130 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature Geoscience and Geology. He is an author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report (5AR) and a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. He is a committee member of the National Research Council, USA, and PALSEA (PALeo-constraints on SEA-level rise). He is project leader of International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) 588.

Sunshine Menezes works to foster broader public understanding of science and the environment through effective science communication as executive director of the Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting and associate director for communication in the Office of Marine Programs at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. Prior to focusing her communication efforts on improving news coverage of the environment, she worked on environmental policy as a legislative assistant responsible for U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone’s environment and energy portfolio and later as the leader of a multidisciplinary team at the URI Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant that developed an innovative urban coastal management policy for Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay. Menezes worked for Rep. Pallone as one of ten Legislative Fellows in the Dean John Knauss National Sea Grant Marine Policy Fellowship class of 2003-2004. She currently serves on the Rhode Island Conservation Law Foundation Board and the Rhode Island Sea Grant Senior Advisory Council and is a Rhode Island Foundation Leadership Fellow. Menezes, who is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers, received a B.S. in zoology from Michigan State University in 1995 and a Ph.D. in biological oceanography from the URI Graduate School of Oceanography in 2005.

Whitman Miller is a research scientist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) and has directed the National Ballast Information Clearinghouse at SERC since 1998. He also serves as the assistant director of SERC’s Marine Invasions Research Program. His research interests include exploring the biological, ecological, and biogeographical characteristics of marine and estuarine exotic species as well as quantifying the spatial and temporal scales at which their vectors operate. Since 2006, Miller has focused much of his research on ocean acidification, primarily in estuarine settings. He is keenly interested in elucidating the dynamics of carbonate chemistry and acidification processes in coastal habitats and exploring the potential ecological impacts of coastal acidification in a high CO2 world. Miller received a B.A. in biology from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, an M.A. in biology and a D.Env. in environmental science and engineering from University of California, Los Angeles.

Alyson Myers owns and operates an aquaculture company on a 380-acre coastal farm dedicated to conservation and scientific research on coastal issues. The focus of her work is on nutrient mitigation and oxygen depletion avoidance in aquatic ecosystems. She collaborates with scientists to find solutions to waterway health and adaptation for climate change. Recently, she spoke at the “Economics of Oceans” conference at the Swedish Embassy on innovation to tackle dead zones in the Baltic Sea and the Chesapeake Bay.  She also collaborates with universities on novel adaptation techniques for rising sea levels on agricultural land. A Master of Arts degree candidate at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, she believes in gathering scientists, the private sector and funders to quickly explore innovation for today’s pressing environmental challenges. She graduated from Wesleyan University.

Meaghan Parker has served as the writer/editor for the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Wilson Center since November 2003. She is the editor of the ECSP Report, a series of policy briefs, and the founding editor of the New Security Beat, a daily blog, both of which focus on the connections among environmental, health, and population dynamics and their links to conflict, human security, and foreign policy. Her work at the Wilson Center has won five Global Media Awards for Population Reporting. She is the associate board member of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Prior to joining the Wilson Center, Parker was manager of research and internal communications at the Fortune 500 energy company PPL Global, where she researched international investments and renewable energy policy.

Ann Peters is director of development and outreach for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. She has worked as journalist, lawyer and director of non-profit initiatives. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Georgetown University Law Center, Peters began her career as a correspondent for United Press International. She reported from North Carolina, Washington, D.C., Israel, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Egypt and South Africa between 1983 and 1991. Her domestic reporting ranged from covering the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster to the North Carolina Senate race between Governor James Hunt and Senator Jesse Helms, one of the most expensive political campaigns of that time. Her assignments abroad gave her ample opportunities to cover international affairs, whether interviewing Palestinians and Israelis during what would become known as the first Palestinian intifada or South Africans on the days and weeks following Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. At Georgetown University Law Center, she was on the staff of the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics and the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy (formerly the Georgetown Journal on Fighting Poverty). She also represented juveniles accused of crimes in the District of Columbia through Georgetown’s Juvenile Justice Clinic. After law school, Peters worked in London as a research associate and consultant for Human Rights Watch, focusing on blinding laser weapons, laws of war and arms embargoes, and then in Washington, D.C., for the Open Society Institute as program director of its Landmines Project. She also practiced law at Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, LLP, a firm specializing in providing legal advice to nonprofit organizations and individuals in the areas of nonprofit organization tax law, election law, employment law and environmental law. Most recently, Peters served as grants management consultant to MAG America.

Richard B. Robins, Jr. was appointed to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council in August 2007 and has served as Chairman since 2008.  In 2011, he initiated the Visioning and Strategic Planning Project, which culminated in the Council’s approval of its first-ever strategic plan in August 2013. Robins also currently serves as the Chairman of the Council Coordination Committee (CCC), which consists of leadership from each of the eight U.S. regional fishery management councils established under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. He was as an Associate Member of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission from 2004-2013 and served as chair of the Commission’s Blue Crab Management Advisory Committee from 2004-2013. Robins owns a whelk processing business, Bernie’s Conchs, L.L.C., on Virginia’s eastern shore, and exports seafood in conjunction with Chesapeake Bay Packing in Newport News, Virginia. He processed seafood in Kodiak, Alaska in the early 1990’s before moving to Virginia and developing export-based fisheries. He received an M.B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.A. in economics and history from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. He is an avid recreational angler.

Steve Sapienza is a producer of news and documentary stories for television and online audiences. He is a veteran videojournalist with over 20 years of production experience, and is a special correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. He has produced award-winning stories on topics as diverse as child combatants in Sierra Leone, the Cuban military, HIV in the Caribbean, and landmine survivors in Cambodia. He was director of photography and producer for the 2013 feature documentary called Easy Like Water, which is part of the Sundance Film Institute’s Stories of Change project. In July 2011, he shot and directed Stranded: Stateless in the Dominican Republic, about the struggles of Dominicans of Haitian-descent for the Al Jazeera Witness documentary series. In 2008, Sapienza co-produced the Pulitzer Center’s Emmy Award-winning web-basedreporting project, aka Hope: Living & Loving with HIV in Jamaica. From 2004-2007, he was senior producer for Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria, a weekly, half-hour global affairs program on PBS stations. In 2002, he produced and edited the documentary Deadlock: Russia’s Forgotten War for CNN Presents in collaboration with reporter Michael Gordon of The New York Times. His most recent projects, supported by the Pulitzer Center, have focused on Burma’s hidden war with the Kachin people, human trafficking in the Thai shrimp industry, illegal gold mining in Peru’s Amazon, and accountability in the water sector in West Africa. In his current position, as senior producer for the Pulitzer Center, he continues to report from the field, and also contributes to the center’s multimedia and broadcast endeavors.

Ekundayo Shittu is an assistant professor of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at The George Washington University, Washington D.C. He holds a B.Eng. in electrical engineering from University of Ilorin, an M.S. in industrial engineering from the American University in Cairo and a Ph.D. in industrial engineering and operations research from University of Massachusetts Amherst. Prior to joining to GWU, Dayo was an assistant professor at the Energy Institute, A.B. Freeman School of Business, Tulane University. He conducts basic and applied research that take a systems approach to address the different dimensions of decision making under uncertainty with particular focus on the economics and management of energy technologies, the design and impacts of climate change response policies, patterns of consumer behavior in energy consumption in the emerging era of smart grid technologies, and the strategic interactions between firms in competitive electricity markets. Currently, he is a lead author on Chapter 2, “Integrated Risk and Uncertainty Assessment of Climate Change Response Policies” of IPCC’s 5th Assessment report (AR5) on the mitigation of climate change.

Ben Strauss serves as vice president for climate impacts and director of the Program on Sea Level Rise at Climate Central. He has published multiple scientific papers on sea level rise, testified before the U.S. Senate, authored the Surging Seas report, and led development of the coastal flood risk tool, leading to front-page coverage in The New York Times and The Washington Post, appearances on NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS and NPR national programming, and extensive coverage nationwide, from AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times, to many hundreds of local news outlets, to numerous editorials and op eds. In earlier roles at Climate Central, Strauss served as interim executive director for one year, chief operating officer, associate director and staff scientist. A founding board member of, he previously helped launch the Environmental Leadership Program. Prior to that, Strauss worked for Abt Associates, co-organized the Campus Earth Summit, and authored a report on college environmental education and practices for the Nathan Cummings Foundation. He holds a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University, an M.S. in zoology from the University of Washington, and a B.A. in biology from Yale University.

Craig Welch has worked as the environment reporter at The Seattle Times since 2000. A journalist for two decades, his work has appeared in Smithsonian magazine, the Washington Post, and Newsweek. He has tagged along with tribal fishermen who hunted seals in Alaska, hitched helicopter rides with scientists in the melting Arctic, prowled the Oregon woods for endangered owls, and tracked the development of Wyoming’s oil fields. The national Society of Environmental Journalists twice named him Outstanding Beat Reporter of the Year, most recently in 2010. He was a 2007 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and lives in Washington State. His book Shell Games, a nonfiction detective story about wildlife smugglers, won the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award in 2011.
Funding for this Climate Change and the News seminar is provided by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, Town Creek Foundation, and The Campbell Foundation.

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