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At Johns Hopkins, David E. Guggenheim is a lecturer for the MS in Environmental Sciences and Policy program.

Guggenheim is a marine scientist, conservation policy specialist, ocean explorer, submarine pilot, and educator. He is founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization Ocean Doctor, which is dedicated to advancing the conservation of the world’s oceans through scientific research, education, and community engagement.

Guggenheim created and oversees Cuba Conservancy, an Ocean Doctor Program, and is in his 19th year leading collaborative research and conservation efforts in Cuba focused on advancing economically and environmentally sustainable solutions for coastal communities that protect and sustain coral reef ecosystems. Collaboration between Cuba and the U.S. on marine research and conservation—considered one of the best examples of collaboration between the two countries—has been credited with building a foundation of trust that helped advance the normalization of diplomatic relations in 2014.

An ocean explorer, Guggenheim piloted the first manned submersible dive into the world’s largest underwater canyons in the Bering Sea as a scientific adviser to Greenpeace. He was inducted into the Explorers Club as a National Fellow in 2008.

Following the wreck of the Maltese freighter Oliva and the resulting catastrophic oil spill at Nightingale Island in the South Atlantic, Guggenheim has led efforts in the U.S. to assist in the protection of the remaining population of endangered Northern Rockhopper penguins. His 2013 documentary, Disaster at Nightingale, details the Oliva spill, which killed thousands of penguins.

Guggenheim is working to advance cutting-edge technologies for sustainable aquaculture practices in the Americas to reduce pressure on overfished wild fish stocks. Following the BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill, he has led efforts on a key recovery project in New Orleans East, the Viet Village Urban Farm Sustainable Aquaculture Park, a next-generation fish farming facility designed to grow fish sustainably while reducing pressure on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem during its long recovery. The project is designed to bring green jobs and economic benefits to the largely Vietnamese community of New Orleans East, which is heavily dependent on fishing and was seriously impacted by both Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.

Guggenheim maintains a strong commitment to environmental education and is currently engaged in Ocean Doctor’s 50 Years–50 States–50 Speeches Expedition to bring special programs about ocean exploration and conservation to young students. He has traveled more than 40,000 miles, visited 22 states, the District of Columbia, and a U.S. territory, and has made more than 100 speeches, reaching more than 21,000 students in locations ranging from Barrow, Alaska—the northernmost community in North America—to Macksville, Kansas, to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Guggenheim played a lead role in forming the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, a partnership among the U.S. Gulf states and 13 federal agencies and Mexico. He also led the formation of the Trinational Initiative for Marine Science and Conservation in the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean, a major project to elevate collaboration in marine science and conservation between Cuba, Mexico, and the U.S. to a new level.

Guggenheim hosted The Ocean Doctor Radio Show and ExpeditionCasts podcast series and plays a key role in public outreach and education about the oceans. He makes frequent speaking and television and radio appearances, having appeared on 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, PBS Newshour, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. Guggenheim previously served as vice president at The Ocean Conservancy, president and CEO of The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, co-chair of the Everglades Coalition and president of the Friends of Channel Islands National Park.

Guggenheim holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and a master’s degree in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in aquatic and population biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a PhD in environmental science and public policy from George Mason University in Virginia.

Featured Works

  • The Remarkable Reefs of Cuba,” The Explorers Club, October 31, 2022
  • The Remarkable Reefs of Cuba: Hopeful Stories from the Ocean Doctor, David E. Guggenheim, Prometheus Books, 2022

Media Mentions

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