Mario Tamburri receives USM Regents’ Faculty Award for Excellence in Public Service

April 21, 2017

Research Professor Mario Tamburri, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) faculty member and director of the Alliance for Coastal Technologies and the Maritime Environmental Resource Center, has received a 2017 USM Regents’ Faculty Award for Excellence in Public Service, the highest honor that the Board bestows to recognize exemplary faculty achievement.

Tamburri, an expert in coastal observing systems, was recognized for his dedication to public service in helping society address environmental challenges by applying innovative and well-tested environmental sensor technologies to monitor water quality and in steadfastly working to reduce the risk of invasive species through maritime transportation.

“Tamburri has exhibited a truly exceptional mix of innovative research, rare entrepreneurship, and deep commitment to applying science for the public good during his 14 years with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science,” said Don Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

The Board of Regents Faculty Awards publicly recognizes distinguished performance by educators and researchers within the University System of Maryland. Award categories include collaboration, mentoring, public service, teaching, research, scholarship, and creative activity.

Rarely does one faculty do as much as either of these projects do with respect to applying science to address the challenges society faces.

Thomas Miller
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory director

This year’s awards were given by Chancellor Robert Caret and Board Chairman James T. Brady at the Board of Regents Faculty Awards ceremony at University of Maryland College Park.

“Rarely does one faculty do as much as either of these projects do with respect to applying science to address the challenges society faces,” said Tom Miller, director of the UMCES’ Chesapeake Biological Laboratory.

Tamburri has been a dedicated leader in working toward effectively addressing invasive species issues as the head of the Maritime Environmental Resource Center (MERC), a partnership with the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Port Administration which addresses the environmental needs of marine commerce, including reducing emissions of pollutants and the risks of introduction of invasive species.

MERC’s mobile test platform, the only one of its kind in the world, tests treatment technologies that clean ballast water on ships to ensure they meet the necessary U.S. Coast Guard requirements to keep invasive species from entering waterways. The center has also recently established efforts, in the Chesapeake Bay and around the world, to address other related Green Ship issues and innovations, including vessel biofouling, alternative fuels and methods to reduce air emissions.

“Dr. Tamburri’s outstanding leadership and dedication to MERC and the ballast water treatment program provided important contributions to the issues regarding invasive species, and it has greatly enhanced the perception of the Port of Baltimore as a green maritime enterprise,” said James White, Executive Director of the Maryland Port Commission. “Certainly the citizens of the State Maryland are the greatest beneficiaries of his work in creating a successful ballast water program.”

He is also executive director of the Alliance for Coastal Technologies (ACT), a partnership of research institutions, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations Integrated Ocean Observing System program, that is dedicated to developing effective and reliable sensors and platforms for monitoring water quality.

Recently, he has been a key member of the Nutrient Sensor Challenge Coalition, a federal inter-agency initiative working to improve scientist’s ability to measure and understand nutrient pollution. He led a partnership with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to lead the Nutrient Sensor Challenge, a novel “prize”-based funding model to promote development of low cost nitrogen and phosphorus sensors that could see application in agriculture, waste water and environmental monitoring. The program has motivated more than a dozen small businesses to develop new technologies.

 “He continues to bridge the gap between research efforts related to sensor testing and innovation and the application for federal agencies and industry,” said Holly Bamford, who served as NOAA assistant secretary for Conservation and Management when the Nutrient Challenge launched. Bamford, an UMCES alumna, is now chief conservation officer at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “His assistance with helping to support and lead the OSTP/interagency Nutrient Sensor Challenge was a huge success.”

Tamburri completed his Ph.D. in biology at the University of South Carolina, in 1996. He holds an M.S. degree in biology from the University of Alabama and a B.A. in Marine Science and biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Tamburri joins an impressive group of University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science faculty members who have received Regents Faculty Awards, including Russell Hill, Thomas Miller, Andrew Elmore, Keith Eshleman, Patricia Glibert, Rose Jagus, Rodger Harvey, Ed Houde, Michael Kemp, Tom Malone, Margaret Palmer, Allen Place, David Secor, and Diane Stoecker.