VIMS professors win environmental award

VIMS researchers James Kirkley and William Reay have each received a prestigious Environmental Hero Award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA presents the award each year to a small number of individuals and organizations from across the United States to honor their efforts to preserve and protect the nation’s environment. For 2005, the agency recognized a total of 37 winners—34 individuals and three organizations.

VIMS professors William Reay and James Kirkley.“NOAA and the nation are fortunate to have such dedicated people give so much of their time,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral and NOAA administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr. “They set a perfect example for others to follow in their communities. America needs more environmental heroes like them.”

“VIMS is extremely proud that not just one but two of our faculty were chosen for this national award,” says VIMS Dean and Director Dr. John Wells. “Their efforts and accomplishments exemplify the best of what VIMS has to offer.”

Kirkley, who chairs VIMS’ Department of Coastal and Ocean Policy (DCOP), was recognized for his pioneering work in using economic analysis to better manage coastal and marine resources. Kirkley’s many accomplishments include applying economic theory and models to help manage U.S. and international fisheries for shrimp, sea scallops, striped bass, and oysters; reduce sea turtle mortality; and develop effective community-impact assessments.

Reay, who directs the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve program at VIMS, was recognized as a local and national leader in the effort to improve monitoring of water quality, weather, and habitats in estuarine environments. His work has helped the Chesapeake Bay Program and the state of Virginia establish better water-quality criteria, and was instrumental in documenting the impacts of Hurricane Isabel on estuarine water quality. Reay was also recognized for his efforts to ensure that reserves around the country produce high-quality data and explore the technology needed to expand the scope and parameters of monitoring data.