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Dr. Quinton White nets major state award for work in marine science education, research and conservation

Lifelong educator and researcher. River advocate. Marine biologist. Media commentator and columnist. Environmentalist. And now Dr. Quinton White can add another title to that long and growing list: Florida Wildlife Federation Marine Conservationist of the Year.

The director of Jacksonville University’s Marine Science Research Institute was honored Saturday, June 13, with the prestigious award for his decades-long commitment to marine research and education, and for “exceptional work in conservation of Florida’s marine life and ecosystems, especially the manatee and kingfish.”

Dr. Quinton White
Dr. Quinton White

It’s the third major civic award he’s won in the past year: In August, he was recognized with the 2014 Christi P. Veleta Environmental Award, given annually by the City of Jacksonville’s Environmental Protection Board to an individual who has shown long-term environmental stewardship, exhibited superior environmental initiative and consistently promoted environmental education and outreach. In December, he was given the Northeast Florida Regional Council’s Regional Leadership Award, its top honor, given for dedication to marine science, the health of the St. John River and the future of the community.

“This is a great honor, and I am humbled to be recognized by the Florida Wildlife Federation,” White said. “The FWF has consistently been a leader in protecting the Florida environment and its wildlife. With the increasing pressure of development on the Florida natural resources that people know and love, we must continue to educate our political leaders and policymakers on what is truly important.”

The Florida Wildlife Federation’s 78th Annual Conservation Awards Banquet was held in St. Augustine, and there was no shortage of accolades for White and his passion and dedication to preservation.

“Dr. White, a member of the faculty at Jacksonville University since 1976, has taught students and community members about the need to keep our water and our aquatic species sustainable. He has spent his career learning and then sharing that knowledge with others,” FWF Northeast Field Office Director Sarah Owen Gledhill said in her introduction. “Locally, he has studied the condition of the St. Johns River and is a true advocate for its preservation in the face of pollution and development.”

The Federation pointed to White’s numerous accomplishments in marine science and preservation, including educating a multitude of students about the marine ecosystem; establishing the major in marine science at JU; founding the LEED-certified MSRI in 2010; traveling to China, South America, the Galapagos Islands, the Bahamas and Australia to gain a wide range of expertise in saltwater habitats; promulgating more than 35 research and technical papers on a wide variety of topics, including the effects of pollutants on marine species behavior and physiology, analyzing the ecology of the St. Johns River and advocating for its environmental sustainability; serving as a consultant with the City of Jacksonville Waterways Commission on manatee and water quality issues; and advising the National Marine Education Association, the Southeastern Estuarine Research Society and the Tree Hill Nature Center board.

Following graduation from North Carolina Wesleyan College in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, White enlisted in the Army, applying to graduate school while still on duty in Vietnam. He obtained a master’s degree in biology from the University of Virginia in 1972, and then his doctorate in biology from the University of South Carolina, Baruch Institute for Marine Biology and Coastal Research, in 1976.