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The Florida Aquarium Names Debborah Luke, PhD Senior Vice President of Conservation

January 6, 2020
Tampa, FL


Former Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Exec Brings more than Two Decades Conservation Experience

Dr. Debi LukeThe Florida Aquarium announced today that Dr. Debborah Luke, an internationally recognized leader with over 25 years of marine and environmental conservation leadership experience, has joined its executive team as Senior Vice President of Conservation. In this role, Debi will be expanding the Aquarium’s dedication to understanding and conserving aquatic species and ecosystems.

“Dr. Luke’s passion for our Blue Planet, her deep technical and management expertise on marine and environmental conservation issues, and her experience as a leader make her a perfect fit,” said Andy Wood Chief Operating Officer of The Florida Aquarium. “Over more than two decades, she has worked in nearly all aspects of conservation, and she understands what is required to drive impact at scale.”

She brings a wealth of experience to the Aquarium leadership team. Most recently, Debi served as the Executive Director of the Society for Conservation Biology – the premier organization for professionals and students who dedicate their work towards advancing the science and practice of conserving Earth’s biological diversity. In this role, she oversaw the strategic business planning for seven regional global sections and over thirty-five international chapters; supported the development of international collaborations that addressed critical environmental and conservation issues; managed the administration of three of the world’s most prestigious peer-reviewed conservation-based scientific journals; and created a marine-focused track for the organization’s international congress.

Previously, Dr. Luke served as Senior Vice President of Conservation & Science for nearly a decade at the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).  One of her significant accomplishments while at AZA was the successful launch of the field conservation programs that supported SAFE, AZA’s premier Saving Animals from Extinction program. In addition, Dr. Luke intimately understands the workings of an aquarium, having served as the Director of Education & Research at Sea Life Park in Hawaii, and as the Director of Manatee Care & Research (along with other various roles) during ten years at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.

“I am excited about the opportunity for what we can achieve at The Florida Aquarium,” said Dr. Luke. “I joined the Aquarium because its vision for protecting and restoring our Blue Planet are imperatives that I fully support and have spent my career advancing. Our oceans are facing unprecedented challenges and it is vital that we find ways to assure their environmental health into the future The Florida Aquarium is dedicated to meeting its vision by applying cutting-edge science-based technologies, building collaborations, and empowering the Tampa Bay community to support its critically important conservation work.  I very much look forward to working with The Florida Aquarium team to accomplish these objectives.”

Dr. Luke is no stranger to Tampa, having earned both her Doctorate and Master’s degrees in cognitive neuroscience and marine science from the University of South Florida and an undergraduate degree in psychology from New College in Sarasota.


About The Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium actively participates in and promotes stewardship of the natural environment as part of our mission of conservation. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, The Florida Aquarium provides an opportunity to see over 8,000 aquatic and terrestrial animals, explore complex ecosystems, look for wild dolphins in Tampa Bay, play at the Splash Pad and more! More than a must-see attraction, The Florida Aquarium is working to protect and restore our blue planet on many conservation fronts, including research and rescue efforts that help restore Florida’s sea turtle and coral populations and to ensure that sharks continue to swim our seas. In August of 2019, The Florida Aquarium, in partnership with Project Coral, became the first to successfully spawn critically endangered pillar coral in a laboratory. To learn more, follow us on social media at @floridaaquarium and visit www.flaquarium.org.

Contact The Florida Aquarium communications@flaquarium.org

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