Dr. Ken Buesseler is a senior scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusets where he leads the Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity and was the founder of our partner organization in the United States, Our Radioactive Ocean (ORO). Dr. Buesseler began ORO as a way to engage the public in scientific research, expand the reach of possible sampling opportunities throughout the west coast of North America, and to help the public understand that both natural and human sources of radiation exist in our environment. When the Fukushima accident happened, Ken was on one of the early research cruises to assees the amount of radiation released to the environment and he has been vocal about the need for marine radiation monitoring to evaluate the risks to both humans and the ecosystem.
It was his conversations with Dr. Cullen that led to the development of the InFORM program and its sustained efforts along the coast of British Columbia. Together, Our Radioactive Ocean and InFORM monitor the west coast of North America for the arrival of the Fukushima plume both with broad spatial coverage and great temporal resolution as their respective strengths. Dr. Buesseler hopes that the public will learn from these combined efforts that it is okay to be concerened about adding radiation in our environment, as he is, but that it is also important to consider how much radioactivity is pre-existing in the environment from both natural (weathered rock) and human (weapons testing, etc.) sources.
Ken was inspired to become a scientist when he was an undergraduate at the University of California San Diego and took a class in limnology (the study of lakes). As part of the class he took a trip to Lake Itasca in Minnesota and got hooked through that great summer of experiences where he could apply what he was learning about chemistry and biology to real world questions. It is this same process of applied research that continues to motivate him to this day. When he is not working on his research programs, Ken enjoys travelling and learning about different cultures through their food, music, and art.