Kumar Mahadevan, president and CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory, will move to president emeritus status in May after 27 years of leading the nonprofit organization.
Mahadevan will continue to work as an advocate and ambassador for at least two years and assist the new CEO in promoting and developing support for Mote's world-class research and education programs.
Using a strong recommendation by Mahadevan, Mote's Board of Trustees appointed Michael Crosby, Mote senior vice president for research, to president and CEO as of May 16.
Mahadevan said assuming non-operational duties will allow him to spend more time with his family.
"I've been thinking about slowing down for several years now," he said. "My wife and I would like to travel. We have grandchildren that we want to spend time with - it's time."
Mahadevan joined Mote in 1978 as a senior scientist and has served as CEO since taking the helm in 1986. He is the Lab's longest-serving leader in its 58-year history.
"Kumar's tenure at Mote has been transformative," said Bob Carter, chairman of Mote's Board of Trustees. "Under his leadership, Mote has grown from a small research group to a full-fledged scientific laboratory with a reputation for excellence - not just here locally or in Florida, but nationally and internationally as well."
When Mahadevan became Mote CEWO, the Lab's annual operating budget was about $2 million with 52 staff members. The Lab's annual operating budget is now more than $17 million with 192 staff members, including 31 Ph.D.-level scientists and an annual economic impact of $70 million.
In addition to the growth in staff and research scope, during Dr. Mahadevan's tenure, Mote's physical presence also grew. Today, the Lab's main Sarasota campus sits on 10.5-acres on City Island and includes the popular Aquarium at Mote Marine Laboratory, which is one of the most-visited attractions in Southwest Florida.
The organization also includes a 200-acre Aquaculture Park in eastern Sarasota County, research field stations on Pine Island in Charlotte Harbor and Summerland Key in the Florida Keys, satellite offices in Punta Gorda and Boca Grande and a second public outreach exhibit dedicated to coral reefs in the Eco-Discovery Center in Key West.
During his leadership, Dr. Mahadevan has been a tireless champion for Mote and for the importance of gaining better scientific knowledge of the marine environment - and sharing that knowledge with the public.
"One of the things I've been most proud of during my time at Mote has been our dedication to combining outreach and education with our scientific research," Mahadevan said. "Bill Mote (the Lab's namesake) always stressed to me the importance of sharing our work with the community and I'm proud that we've been able to do that. Today, we have more than 250 cutting-edge research projects, a great public Aquarium, informative K-12 education programs that reach more than 25,000 students annually and we count more than 10,000 people as members and supporters. However, our mission could not be realized without the efforts of our talented, passionate staff and dedicated corps of 1,600 volunteers, including our Board of Trustees, Advisory Council and Keys Advisory Board. They are our greatest assets!"
Mahadevan began as a benthic ecologist with research interests in man-induced ecological disturbances. His studies worldwide addressed a diverse array of topics, including the effects of deep-water munitions dumps in the North Atlantic abyssal plain; effects of power generation facilities in Southwest Florida waters; sewage-induced impacts in estuarine biota; baseline investigations of offshore continental shelf benthos in relation to oil-drilling operations; studies of woodborers and fisheries in the Bay of Bengal, effects of oil refinery effluents in the Persian Gulf and physiological studies of Arctic (Point Barrow) benthic fauna.
"It is my fervent hope that marine laboratories such as Mote will always exist as places where people can learn about the sea," Mahadevan said. "After all these years, my excitement for the sea, our last frontier, has not waned."
Crosby joined Mote in 2010 when he was appointed to lead scientific endeavors after appointments as associate vice president for research and economic development at George Mason University, vice chancellor for research at the University of Hawai'i-Hilo, executive director of the National Science Board and senior adviser for international science policy in the Under Secretary's Office of International Affairs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In three years at Mote, Crosby helped develop the 2020 Vision and Strategic Plan (online at www.mote.org/aboutus) - developed the Mote Marine Laboratory Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, which provides support and mentorship for recent Ph.D. graduates, and is working on international initiatives expanding Mote's marine science leadership worldwide.
Crosby lives in Sarasota with his wife, Sharon. They have an adult daughter in Washington, D.C. View his full CV at www.mote.org/crosby.