Robert Nathan Ginsburg (1925-2017) – Scientist, mentor, visionary

To our AGRRA community of friends and partners:

All of us with the AGRRA team are saddened to announce the loss of our colleague and dear friend, Dr. Robert N. Ginsburg who passed away July 9, 2017. As many of you know, Bob has been the guiding visionary force, mentor and “father” of AGRRA’s efforts for 20 years and has supported the AGRRA program through his foundation, The Ocean Research and Education Foundation (ORE).

What started off with Bob’s seemingly simple question in 1993 of “What is the status of our coral reefs?” turned into a collective global quest to better understand and protect these underwater ecosystems. Motivated by numerous colleagues and students, many of whom are now life-long friends, Bob became a spokesperson for the importance of coral reef science and rallied behind the urgent call to action to increase the protection of coral reefs.

Bob had a unique way of weaving together science, exploration, history, field trips, education, conservation, art, humor, storytelling, good food and music. Bob’s eloquent and thought-provoking speaking style and endless source of interesting stories not only piqued our scientific curiosities but engaged us in caring more about the future of coral reefs. He delighted in using analogies to explain the complexities of reefs in more simpler terms such as how corals are like apartment buildings or how Diadema urchins are the lawnmowers of the reef. Yet, he encouraged us as colleagues and students to think on larger spatial scales and broader geologic time frames and to consider how to make our scientific endeavors more relevant.

With AGRRA, Bob’s initial goals were to provide a standardized assessment of key structural and functional indicators to reveal spatial and temporal patterns of regional reef condition. Priority was placed on conducting baseline assessments of remote reefs such as Cuba, The Bahamas, Panama and Los Roques and on creating educational materials and leading training workshops for in-country partners around the Caribbean.

Now 20 years later, we have collaborated with many of you to collectively conduct over 2,300 reefs and collect 10,000’s of data metrics; have built one of the largest open-access public databases of coral reef condition, and contributed to numerous peer-reviewed publications, management plans and educational materials.

In addition to Bob’s many academic and geological contributions over his lifetime, we honor and celebrate the chapter of his life dedicated to coral reefs. Bob has inspired new generations of ocean scientists, enthusiasts, educators and conservationists. We are grateful for his wisdom, humor, and friendship.

We invite all of you who can to send us a photo or “Ginsburg or AGRRA-inspired” story to the email below to add to the collection we are collating for his memorial this weekend and for a future celebration of his life later in the fall. We thank all of you who have participated in AGRRA over the years and look forward to collaborating in the future to further Bob’s vision of better understanding and safeguarding our coral reefs.

Read more about his life here:  Miami Herald Tribute

Sincerely,

Philip and Patricia Kramer, Judith Lang, Kenneth and Tammy Marks, Shirley Gun, Lynette Roth and all of us with the AGRRA team.

If you would like to contribute a story or photo or would like more information on our plans later this fall for a celebration of Bob’s life, please contact info@agrra.org.