The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is honoring Stony Brook University Professor Christopher Gobler for his research on Long Island’s water quality problems.
Gobler will receive an Environmental Champion award, which recognizes individuals dedicated to protecting public health and the environment in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, officials said.
“It’s a great honor and very humbling,” Gobler, 45, said Monday. “I put a lot of passion and effort into studying what I do, and it feels good knowing that I can help the community.”
Gobler, who was raised in Setauket and now lives in East Quogue, is a marine biologist and leading researcher on the harmful algal blooms that have become increasingly common in the Island’s coastal waters.
He said he became interested in the phenomenon a couple decades ago while working a summer job in Smithtown.
“I remember a bayman telling about how he, his father, and his father’s father were all fishermen in the area. He said he always thought his son would be, too, but that all the clams in the Great South Bay are disappearing,” Gobler said. “That was honestly a life-changing experience for me.”
Gobler runs a research lab at Stony Brook’s Southampton campus, where he and his colleagues investigate brown tides, fishery collapse and the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems.
In addition to his research, Gobler helped develop the Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan and is working closely with Suffolk County to address how septic systems and cesspools are contributing to the area’s nitrogen pollution problem.
“We are grateful for Dr. Gobler’s commitment to protecting Suffolk County’s environment and are proud that he has been recognized as a ‘champion’ by the EPA,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a statement.
Gobler, who will be presented the award May 13, was one of six people nominated by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).