Shirley Poponi Ph.D., 2003
Dr. Shirley Pomponi is Executive Director of the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research, and Technology at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University in Fort Pierce, Florida. She received her B.A. in Biology from the College of St. Elizabeth, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the University of Miami. Her research focuses on marine biotechnology, in general, and the discovery and development of marine-derived drugs, in particular. She has authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific publications and is co-inventor on several patents. An explorer at heart, Dr. Pomponi has led numerous research expeditions worldwide. She has discovered many deepwater sponges from which chemicals with pharmaceutical properties have been identified. A highlight of her career is the opportunity she’s had to make more than 300 dives in the Johnson-Sea-Link submersibles—piloted by her husband, Don Liberatore—and she continues to enjoy scuba diving for science and pleasure. Although she’d much rather be in the lab or at sea, Shirley participates in a number of national, regional, and state organizations where she helps develop priorities for ocean and coastal research. She is President of the Southern Association of Marine Laboratories and Chair of the Florida Institute of Oceanography. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the Florida Oceans and Coastal Council, the U.S. National Committee for the Census of Marine Life, the National Association of Marine Laboratories, the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association, and the Florida Ocean Alliance. She was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame in 2003.