Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, Executive Director

Ellen K. Pikitch, Ph.D. is the founder of our organization and is the inaugural Endowed Professor of Ocean Conservation Science at our home institution, the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. Ellen is an award-winning scientist, conservationist, and communicator who is transforming the way the ocean is perceived and managed. Ellen’s contributions range from the local to the global levels and have resulted in basic science innovations, fisheries management improvements, and domestic and international policy change. Ellen is frequently called upon to provide her expertise at professional meetings, global scale fora on the oceans, and to decision-makers at the state, national, and global levels. 


Currently, Ellen’s areas of focus include marine protected areas and the use of eDNA technology for non-invasive assessment of fish and invertebrate communities. She is the scientific lead for the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance, a coalition of Member States that seeks to accelerate the creation of science-based MPAs. 

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Ellen is a co-Principal Investigator on projects to assess marine protected areas in China, to improve the water quality and fish community through shellfish restoration in Shinnecock Bay, among others. She spent several years chairing the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force from 2008-2012 and led an effort to develop a consensus on Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management. Throughout the past few decades, Ellen has been a leading voice among scientists to communicate important research results and conservation perspectives to policymakers and the general public. 

Ellen, a native New Yorker who has since traveled to more than 110 countries, has authored more than 200 scientific and popular articles and edited two books. View her faculty page here.