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Russ Brown with a white hake
Russ Brown holding a white hake.
Credit: NOAA Fisheries Service

Russell Brown Named NEFSC’s Deputy Science and Research Director, Director of the Woods Hole Laboratory

Russell W. Brown has been named the Deputy Science and Research Director at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and Director of the Woods Hole Laboratory.  The Woods Hole Laboratory, the original laboratory of today’s federal marine fisheries service established in 1871, is one of the Center’s six research facilities in the Northeast and is also the administrative home for the NEFSC Directorate. 

Brown has served as Ecosystems Surveys Branch chief at the Center for the past decade.  No stranger to his new position, Brown served as Acting Deputy Director for several months last year after Frank Almeida announced his plans to retire at the end of December 2011 following 36 years of service to the Northeast Fisheries Science Center.

Russ Brown grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland and attended Cornell University, where he received a B.S. degree with honors and distinction in natural resources (fisheries) in 1986. He pursued graduate studies in fisheries science at Michigan State University, earning a M.S. degree in 1991 and a Ph.D. in 1994.

He began his career at NOAA Fisheries Service in 1994 as a research fishery biologist, involved in conducting groundfish stock assessments for Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine haddock and Georges Bank winter flounder.

Between 1999 and 2002, Brown lead research efforts to investigate growth and survival dynamics of hatchery-reared Atlantic salmon stocked into the Penobscot River in Maine.  He also coordinated U.S. participation in an international program to sample Atlantic salmon captured at West Greenland, and served as a scientific advisor for the U.S. delegation to the North Atlantic Salmon Convention (NASCO) and as one of two North American representatives on the NASCO Standing Scientific Committee.

In 2002 he was named chief of the NEFSC’s Ecosystems Surveys Branch, which is charged with conducting long-term and broad-scale offshore surveys of finfish and invertebrate resources from Cape Hatteras to the Scotian Shelf.  The Ecosystems Surveys Branch is responsible for conducting three multispecies bottom trawl surveys, a northern shrimp bottom trawl survey, scallop and clam dredge surveys, and an Atlantic herring acoustics survey.

“Russ Brown is well-known to everyone at NEFSC and to others who work in NOAA’s Fisheries Service and in the broader community. He is well-respected for his scientific work, his leadership and his administrative skills,” said Acting NEFSC Science and Research Director William Karp.  “Since joining the NEFSC staff in 1994, Russ Brown has taken on increasingly complex and challenging responsibilities and has demonstrated an ability to work well with staff and stakeholders and to advance the science of NEFSC and the Fisheries Service.”

Brown was one of the first NEFSC staff members to respond to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  He served as chief scientist aboard the NOAA ship Gordon Gunter in May 2010 on one of the initial research cruises to study the impact of the Deepwater Horizon MC 252 oil spill.

Richard Langton, who had served since October as Acting Deputy Science and Research Director for the Center, has returned to his research and administrative duties as head of the Center’s Coastal Ecology Branch.

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Russ Brown’s contributions to the Center and its mission were recognized in 2001 when he was honored as Employee of the Year.  He was part of a 10-person NEFSC team to receive a NOAA Fisheries Bronze Medal in 2003, the highest honor that can be granted by the Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere (who also serves as NOAA Administrator) “for developing a problem-solving methodology that stands as a model for working cooperatively to resolve issues that jeopardize sound fishery management.”

Brown has participated in dozens of survey cruises and spent months at sea on fisheries survey vessels.  He has attended numerous fishery management council meetings and been involved in the Marine Resource Education Program (MREP) courses, which bring fishermen, scientists and managers together in an effort to promote understanding and work toward a common goal of producing sound science that supports sustainable fisheries management.

Locally, Brown also serves as Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 42 in East Falmouth, MA and is an active member of John Wesley United Methodist Church.

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