Emmett Duffy

Director of the Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network

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Emmett Duffy’s lifelong interest in the mysterious lives of sea creatures has led him to conduct groundbreaking research and experiments around the world. For 19 years he was professor of marine science at the College of William & Mary and head of the Marine Biodiversity Lab at William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences.

He also founded and served as a chief scientist of the Zostera Experimental Network (ZEN) an innovative partnership studying how nutrient pollution and changing food webs affect the workings of seagrass ecosystems. The network is currently in its second generation and counts 50 sites and 25 partners spanning the entire northern hemisphere.

Translating his global perspective and research experience to the Smithsonian's Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network (TMON), Dr. Duffy now shapes the program’s vision and mission, advancing the global science to sustain marine biodiversity and resilient ecosystems. He leads TMON’s team in developing standardized research and analysis protocols, building partnerships with other institutions, and doing extensive outreach to publicize and raise funds for the project. He oversees the application of the initiative’s cutting-edge technology to scientific discoveries, collecting, assembling, evaluating, and disseminating multifaceted data from sites around the world.

The initiative represents the first systematic effort to quantify the diversity of sea life, how it responds to environmental changes, and how these influence the marine ecosystem services we depend on, such as sustainable fisheries and clean water.