portrait of Silvia Newell with a river in the background.Michigan Sea Grant (MISG) welcomes Dr. Silvia Santa Maria Newell, a microbial ecologist and nutrient biogeochemist, as our new director, starting June 1, 2023. In addition to serving as MISG director, Silvia also serves as a professor at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability.

Silvia’s experience working on Great Lakes issues and leading regional organizations position her well to build collaborative research, education and outreach efforts across Michigan on behalf of MISG. Her own research focuses on the effects of excess nutrients from fertilizer and wastewater on inland and coastal waters, particularly harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Lake Erie. Her current collaborative work in the Lake Erie watershed focuses on engaging stakeholders (farmers, managers, and policymakers) to develop realistic pathways for nutrient reduction. She has held many leadership positions, including serving as co-chair of the Great Lakes Commission HABs Collaboratory for two years and her current position as President of the Lake Erie Area Research Network.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Silvia as the new director. Her experience as a Great Lakes researcher and scientist, her commitment to building collaborations, and her strong communications skills will help take MISG to the next level,” said Mike Shriberg, interim director of MISG and new faculty member at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability (UM SEAS), with a joint appointment at the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR).

Silvia comes to MISG from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, where she is a Professor in Biology and Earth and Environmental Sciences. She graduated from Smith College in 2004 and spent a year in Costa Rica doing research as a Fulbright Scholar. She then earned her PhD in 2010 in marine biogeochemistry at Princeton University as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. Silvia worked as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Boston University in 2012 and joined Wright State University’s faculty in 2014.

Silvia is a first-generation Latina scientist and is passionate about making the scientific community inclusive and accessible to all: “I am so excited to join the MISG team! I am proud of the work MISG is already doing to not only increase participation in STEM but making STEM accessible and inclusive. I hope to build on and expand this work and our collaborations with our Tribal partners. Diverse interest in STEM is not the issue—making STEM spaces inclusive and supportive of diverse people is.”

Michigan Sea Grant is grateful to Mike Shriberg for serving as interim director after Tom Johengen’s retirement in January 2023. Mike will remain at MISG as the director of engagement through at least the end of 2023.