Florida has appointed a Chief Science Officer to address climate change. The first in the nation position is happening under a Republican governor.
The appointment is the result of an Executive Order issued by Governor DeSantis in January. The order called for the appointment of a Chief Science Officer to coordinate and prioritize scientific data, research, monitoring and analysis needs to ensure alignment with current and emerging environmental concerns most pressing to Floridians.
“As one of Florida’s leading environmental researchers, Dr. Frazer understands the unique water issues facing our state and the actions we must take to solve them,” Governor DeSantis said in a statement.
Dr. Frazer has served as the Director of the University of Florida’s School of Natural Resources and Environment and previously served as Acting Director of the UF Water Institute. Prior to this position, he served as Associate Director of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation and the Leader of the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Program. At UF, his research focuses on the effects of anthropogenic activities on the ecology of both freshwater and marine ecosystems.
The decision to appoint an environmental scientist to a state role represents a policy shift in Florida. Florida’s previous administration made significant cuts to water management and other budgets which had nearly immediate environmental impacts. Florida is also under pressure from rising sea levels and increasingly frequent severe weather events. In his new role, Dr. Frazer will be working with the governor and state officials to put response plans in place and make recommendations about how to prevent significant damage.