Plenary Sessions

Monday, 25 February 2019

11:00 to 12:30, Ballroom A – Puerto Rico Convention Center

Welcome by ASLO President

Michael L. Pace, Professor and Department Chair, University of Virginia, Department of Environmental Sciences, Charlottesville, Virginia

Welcome by Meeting Co-chairs

Deborah A. Bronk, President and CEO, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, East Boothbay, Maine
John A. Downing, Director, Minnesota Sea Grant, and Professor of Biology and Large Lakes Observatory, University of Minnesota, Duluth, Minnesota

Welcome to San Juan

Carmen Yulín Cruz, Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico (Invited)

Plenary Presenter (Via Video)

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) Newport, Rhode Island

Plenary Presentation: The Importance of the Science-Policy Interface for Marine and Coastal Resources

Biographical Information: Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), plays a key role in crafting policies addressing environmental protection and climate change. In 2011, he joined with Democrats and Republicans to form the Senate Oceans Caucus to increase awareness of and find common ground on issues facing the oceans and coasts. The Caucus helped gain Senate approval of four international fisheries treaties and passage of the IUU Fishing Enforcement Act that will prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. Whitehouse has worked to boost federal support for fisheries science and cooperative fisheries research as well as efforts to improve transparency and efficiency in the commercial and recreational fisheries management process.

Senator Whitehouse has long advocated for a dedicated fund to support ocean and coastal research, restoration, and conservation. In 2015, the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund was created to provide grants that support work for the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. It received funding for the first time as part of the FY2018 spending bill. He also led the successful bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuaries Program to protect and study coastal habitats. Whitehouse was a lead sponsor of the Save Our Seas Act, a bipartisan bill driven by the Caucus’s leadership to reauthorize NOAA’s marine debris program and strengthen the U.S.’s role in combatting the global marine debris crisis. The SOS Act became law in October.

A graduate of Yale University and the University of Virginia School of Law, Whitehouse served as United States Attorney and Attorney General of Rhode Island before being elected to the Senate in 2006. In addition to EPW, he is a member of the Budget Committee; the Judiciary Committee; and the Finance Committee. He and his wife Sandra, a marine biologist and environmental advocate, live in Newport, Rhode Island.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

11:00 to 12:30, Ballroom A – Puerto Rico Convention Center

Plenary Presenter

María Falcón, Producer, Director, Presenter, and Journalist, Puerto Rico

Plenary Presentation: Television + Fun + Education... Total Immersion

Biographical Information: A University of Puerto Rico graduate with more than 30 years of experience in mass media, María Falcón has distinguished herself as a journalist, producer and director of educational TV programs and documentaries focused on nature, environment and cultural topics. She is most known for her work in GeoAmbiente.

Her credits contain hundreds of titles that have resulted in countless recognitions: (10) Emmy Suncoast Awards, the Conservation Filmmaker of the Year Award [Filmmakers for Conservation - Bristol, UK 2008], (3) Excellence in Ecological Journalism Awards [Overseas Press Club], the Accolade Award [California], the Environmental Hero Award [National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration - US 2005], the Centennial Award [US Forest Service - 2005], (2) Excellence Awards [Environmental Protection Agency], as well as other achievements at festivals in England, Brazil, Spain, Portugal and the United States. In addition, the Universidad Metropolitana (AGMUS) awarded Falcón an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Sciences - Environmental Management in 2017.

Currently, she is a member of the Puerto Rico Climate Change Council, the Sea Grant Program UPR - Advisory Council, the El Yunque Management Plan Review Committee and the international organization Filmmakers for Conservation. Also, as part of her commitment to the conservation of our natural resources and the environmental health, she offers talks and workshops to students of our local schools and universities.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

11:00 to 12:30, Ballroom A – Puerto Rico Convention Center

Plenary Presenter

Ada Monzón, Chief Meteorologist, WIPR-TV, Univision Radio WKAQ 580 am, and Noticel; Founder and President, EcoExploratorio, Puerto Rico

Plenary Presentation: Building Resilience through Innovation in education: Case Study: Hurricane Maria
Biographical Information: Ada Monzón is the commonwealth’s chief meteorologist for WIPR-TV and Univision Radio WKAQ 580 am and Noticel. She is also the founder and president of EcoExploratorio: Science Museum of Puerto Rico. After earning her M.S. in Meteorology at the Florida State University, Ada joined the U.S. NWS Forecast Office in San Juan, where she became a forecaster and the warning and preparedness meteorologist. Ada is the first female American Meteorological Society (AMS) Fellow and Certified Broadcast Meteorologist in Puerto Rico. She is a professional speaker and producer of STEM education programs and disaster mitigation educational campaigns, and she is widely recognized for her successful social media networks with over 1,000,000 followers. Her standout service and commitment during 2017 reassured the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. She closely followed Irma as it passed near the Caribbean and then provided essential weather information during Hurricane Maria, helping the population prepare and remain calm throughout the most devastating disaster in Puerto Rico’s record. Ada was recognized as the 2018 National Weatherperson of the Year and the 2019 AMS Award for Broadcast Meteorology. Her awards include the AMS Joanne Simpson Mentorship Award and the AMS Award for Excellence in Science Reporting by a Broadcast Meteorologist.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

11:00 to 12:30, Ballroom A – Puerto Rico Convention Center

Plenary Presenter

Christopher M. Volpe, Executive Director, ScienceCounts, Washington, DC

Plenary Presentation: Americans’ Views of Science: Separating Fact from Fiction

Biographical Information: Christopher Volpe is the executive director and a founding board member of ScienceCounts. With an academic background in atmospheric chemistry and two decades of private sector experience in marketing and branding, Chris is strong proponent of using traditional marketing techniques to better understand public attitudes about science and its intersection with society. Through ScienceCounts, he is working to foster stronger connections between the scientific community and the general public. Previously, Chris was the president and co-founder of Prismatic Laser Programs LLC, the nation’s leading provider of STEM-based assembly programs to elementary and middle schools. In his free time, Volpe is a demonstration pilot of various types of historically significant WW2 aircraft. Chris received his PhD from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Friday, 1 March 2019

11:00 to 12:30, Ballroom A – Puerto Rico Convention Center

Plenary Presenter

Ernesto L. Díaz, Director, Coastal Management and Climate Change Office, Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Plenary Presentation: The State of the Puerto Rico Climate 2018: An assessment of socio-ecological vulnerabilities for coastal and marine systems

Biographical Information: Ernesto Díaz is Director of the Puerto Rico Coastal Zone Management Program under the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He also is Co-Incident Commander of Hurricane Maria’s Sunken Vessel and Marine Debris Removal (DNER-USCG) Program and is the lead for coral reefs, beaches and dunes restoration and recovery efforts (DNER-FEMA). Díaz also is the current coordinator of the Puerto Rico Climate Change Council. He has served in various capacities within the DNER since 1995 and before that was Coordinator of Integrated Planning and Institutional Development under the United Nations Environment Program Regional Co-ordinating Unit in Kingston, Jamaica. Díaz is a prolific author and co-author on a number of papers and reports. He has formal training in many areas ranging from remote sensing, to strategic planning to climate change adaptation to national disaster preparedness. He holds degrees in oceanography, coastal and marine biology, engineering management, and has completed post-graduate studies in energy and environment.