Thursday, June 18, 2015

Professional Profile: Craig Downs

1. Name: Craig Downs
2. Job Title: Executive Director, Haereticus Environmental Laboratory
3. Degree(s) held and from where:
         BA: Hiram College
         MSc: Syracuse University
         Ph.D.: University of Hawaii – Manoa
5. Briefly describe the project(s) you are currently working on:
         In Maui, we are working on two projects:
(1)  The Kapalua Bay Restoration Initiative – Kapalua Bay’s coral reef “collapsed” beginning in 2006.  We have spent the last 5 years conducting scientific investigations into the stressors impacting the Bay and the relative contribution of these different stressors to ecological degradation.  Our goal is to mitigate these stressors and return the Bay back to health.

(2)  Impacts of sunscreen on coral reefs – our organization has partnered with about a dozen other organizations around the world to examine the ecological impacts of different chemicals in sunscreen lotions. It is estimated that coral reefs the world over can be exposed to at least 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotion a year.  We have demonstrated that some ingredients in some sunscreen formulation can be a significant threat to coral reefs, and that it is possible to formulate sunscreen lotions that could be relatively safe for coral reefs.

6. Explain how/why your job is important to society:
 Very few organizations conduct research on environmental degradation or on anthropogenic factors that pose (e.g., sunscreen use, pesticide use) a risk to ecological integrity.  Our organization partners with government agencies, academic institutions (high schools to universities), large international NGOs and small, grassroots community coalitions to understand the factors that threaten wild environments through scientific/forensic investigations.  Once we understand these causes, we develop or facilitate the development of solutions that mitigate these destructive processes.  This can range from advocating the use of better tertiary sewage treatment systems for island communities to ecologically safe sunscreen formulations used near coral reefs.

13. What do you like to do on your days off?   
What days off?

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