Chief Scientist
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Emmett Duffy headshot

Dr. J. Emmett Duffy is the founding Director of the Smithsonian’s Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network (TMON) and MarineGEO program, headquartered at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland. MarineGEO is a growing global network of coastal marine life observatories building the scientific foundation to address the intertwined challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. Emmett led collaboration among Smithsonian science units to establish TMON and the MarineGEO Program, and their subsequent growth into a global network that currently includes 15 long-term observatories and roughly 100 project partners.  

Before coming to the Smithsonian in 2013, Emmett was the Glucksman Professor of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, where he founded the Zostera Experimental Network and conducted ground-breaking research on the role of marine biodiversity in ecosystems, and the evolution of social living among marine animals.  

Emmett is a marine biologist, holding degrees from Spring Hill College (BS), the University of Maine (MS) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (PhD). He has been a leader for 20 years in research on coastal marine life and ecosystems, publishing over 150 scientific articles that have been cited more than 35,000 times. He serves on steering committees of the Global Ocean Observing System (Biology and Ecosystems) and the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network. He is an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America, and the recipient of Japan’s inaugural Kobe Prize in Marine Biology in 2011.  

In 2021 he published the first advanced marine ecology text focused on the challenges of our current Anthropocene era: “Ocean Ecology. Marine life in the age of humans”.

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