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Outstanding Faculty Awards

Emmett Duffy

Professor of Marine Science
College of William and Mary

J. Emmett Duffy is Loretta and Lewis Glucksman Professor of Marine Science and head of the Marine Biodiversity Lab at the College of William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, where he has taught and conducted research since 1994.

Dr. Duffy is known worldwide for his creative research and leadership of collaborative efforts documenting how biological diversity affects functioning of ecosystems. An author of over 100 scientific papers, he also communicates marine biology to the public through the popular SeaMonster blog he co-founded, and is credited by several former William and Mary students with changing their lives.

Dr. Duffy’s long-term research addresses how environmental change affects the complex interactions among marine animals and plants, and how these translate into the natural services on which humanity depends. He currently leads a global research network, funded by the National Science Foundation and involving seven countries, that he founded to explore how nutrient pollution and species decline influence the world’s economically important but threatened seagrass meadows.

In the last decade Dr. Duffy has co-led major synthetic efforts to put biodiversity science to work in informing public policy and education/awareness. These include a 2012 international consensus document in Nature linking biodiversity to ecosystem health, the first ever inclusion of ocean ecosystems in the quadrennial US National Climate Assessment, and an interagency group envisioning a national marine biodiversity observation network.

In 2006 he was awarded an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship, and in 2011, Japan’s inaugural Kobe Prize in Marine Biology for his ground-breaking discovery of advanced social colonies in tropical shrimp. His research has been featured in the BBC’s Blue Planet series, on the Discovery Channel, in textbooks, and in numerous media outlets worldwide.

Dr. Duffy is married to Elizabeth Canuel, a distinguished biogeochemist and Professor of Marine Science at VIMS, and is the father of Conor Duffy, an avid sports blogger. He received his B.S. magna cum laude from Spring Hill College, M.S. from the University of Maine, and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

View Nomination Packet

Emmett Duffy


"I knew by 13 that I wanted to be a biologist, and Ive found a career and an institution where I have the freedom and support to follow that fascination through scientific research and interacting with bright, inquisitive students. I like to think, also, that Ive helped nurture that same passion in another generation, and that has been deeply satisfying as well."