A globally renowned marine researcher with more than 20 years of academic leadership at the University of Florida finding solutions for fresh and saltwater ecology today was announced as the new dean of the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida.
Tom Frazer served for five years as director of the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE), which is part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Frazer was appointed Florida’s first chief science officer in 2019. He currently works in that position at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Among his many significant roles, Frazer oversees Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Blue-Green Algae Task Force, addressing nutrient pollution in Florida waterways like Lake Okeechobee and the St. Johns River.
Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, appointed Frazer to lead the SNRE in 2014. With the hiring of Frazer, USF gets an accomplished scientist and leader, Payne said.
“Tom’s work at the intersection of science and public policy is making a difference in the lives of Floridians. His leadership has contributed to a greater understanding of the natural resources that make Florida such a special place,” said Payne, administrative head of UF/IFAS. “USF has made an outstanding choice to lead scientific inquiry into the way we interact with our oceans.”
“Tom has been an outstanding faculty member and a demonstrated administrative leader at UF/IFAS’ School of Natural Resources and Environment,” Payne said.
Before going to Tallahassee, Frazer had been with UF/IFAS since 1996.
As director of SNRE, Frazer oversaw degree programs that focus on ecology, environmental science and sustainability and prepare students for careers in a suite of environmental and natural resource-related fields.
At the time of his appointment as director of SNRE, Frazer said he believes that traditional, disciplinary-based science will not be enough to solve current and future problems. It will take “vibrant” interdisciplinary programs to transform the way scientists, decision-makers and citizens understand and use natural resources, he said.
Frazer said he thoroughly enjoyed his time at UF and UF/IFAS and is “extremely proud of all that was accomplished during my tenure there.”
“The many relationships that were established over the years will be of tremendous value moving forward,” he said. “With that in mind, I am absolutely thrilled with the opportunity to serve as the next Dean of USF’s College of Marine Science.”
As his overarching research goal at UF/IFAS, Frazer focused on a mechanistic understanding of the effects of human-induced impacts on the health and ecological integrity of aquatic systems.
Frazer’s studies have been carried out across the globe and include, for example, understanding the effects of climate change on sea ice dynamics and Antarctic food webs, the effects of invasive lionfish on coral reefs in the Caribbean and the consequences of increased nutrient delivery on Florida’s spring, rivers and estuaries.
He co-chaired the UF Oil Spill Task Force that was formed following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to coordinate faculty research and outreach related to the disaster.
Frazer was named a UF research foundation professor for 2007-2010.
He has authored or co-authored nearly 200 publications. They include peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, reports and technical papers. Frazer also has garnered extensive federal and state grant funding to support his research, which includes work on the ecology of coral reefs, water quality and restoration of degraded ecosystems.
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS)
is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make
that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than
a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty
in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions
to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.