Last month, Mote Marine Laboratory announced the creation of a new Red Tide Institute.
Now, that institute has a leader.
Cynthia Heil will serve as the director of the institute starting Jan. 1, 2019. Heil will be a senior scientist for the HAB Mitigation Research program as well, Mote said in a statement.
Heil comes to Mote from Bigelow Laboratory in Maine, where she created an independent research program that focused on water quality, harmful algal blooms and ecosystem management, the statement said. The position at Mote will allow her to renew her focus on red tide research.
“I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the world-class Mote scientists on Karenia research again,” Heil said in the statement. “Through Mote’s new Red Tide Institute, I hope we can begin finding practical solutions to alleviate the impacts of Florida red tide and to safeguard human health and our marine environment.”
She was previously a senior research scientist and administrator and and harmful algal bloom group leader for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. She also led algal bloom research at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science the statement said.
Heil brings with her expertise in mitigating a major red tide impact: airborne toxins that cause respiratory irritation in humans. At Bigelow, Heil and a fellow collaborator are investigating substances that alter water surface tension.
“We cannot imagine a better choice for leadership of our new Red Tide Institute,” Mote President and CEO Michael Crosby said in the statement. “Dr. Heil is internationally renowned in the field of harmful algal bloom science, and her landmark contributions to the peer-reviewed research, including studies co-authored with our other world-class Mote scientists over the years, have helped the field advance to where it is today.”
Crosby continued by saying the Red Tide Institute will be launched with the knowledge and experience to focus on developing and testing mitigation and control technologies.
The HAB Mitigation Research Program will aggregate five ongoing programs working on red tide. The list of mitigation options is still being considered, but already, Mote scientists have begun identifying promising mitigation technologies for preliminary laboratory testing.
The Red Tide Institute will focus on studying and testing Florida red tide mitigation and control technologies in the hope of improving the quality of coastal communities.