Twin Cities WRS Seminar

Scientific Integrity in the Balance: What's at Stake?


Dr. Deborah Swackhamer
Professor Emerita, Humphrey School of Public Affairs and School of Public Health

October 13, 2017


The nation’s environmental issues are complex and require a sound scientific base from which to design lasting and effective policy. One aspect of maintaining the integrity of science that is used for regulation and policy is objective peer review (just as it is in academic research) and the Congress recognized this by passing the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has several advisory committees to oversee the quality and scope of the diverse science used by the Agency. Dr. Swackhamer is a past Chair of the EPA Science Advisory Board, and is the current Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors, and will share her first-hand knowledge of how these committees have done their work, and how they are currently being used by the new Administration.


Dr. Deborah L. Swackhamer is Professor Emerita at the University of Minnesota of Science, Technology, and Public Policy in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health. She also directed the Water Resources Center from 2002 until 2014. She received a BA in Chemistry from Grinnell College, IA and an MS and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Water Chemistry and Limnology & Oceanography, respectively. After two years post-doctoral research in Chemistry and Public & Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, she joined the Minnesota faculty in 1987. She officially retired from the University in 2015 and continues to work informally with researchers and decision makers on water resource policy.

In 2012 Dr. Swackhamer completed a 4-year term as Chair of the Science Advisory Board of the US Environmental Protection Agency and served as a member of the Science Advisory Board of the International Joint Commission of the US and Canada from 2000-2013. She currently serves as Chair of the US EPA Board of Scientific Counselors. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board of Environmental Science and Toxicology. She served as President of the National Institutes of Water Resources in 2011-2012.

Dr. Swackhamer received the prestigious Founders Award from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry for lifetime achievement in environmental sciences in 2009. She is a lifetime Fellow in the Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK. In November 2014 she was named an Inaugural Fellow of the International Society of EnvironmentalToxicology and Chemistry. She received the Warren A. Hall Medal from the Universities Council on Water Resources in 2017 for her lifetime achievements in water resources research and education.