Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick is the Executive Director for the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observation System (GCOOS). She has more than 35 years of experience in human and environmental epidemiology and started her career as a Respiratory Care Supervisor at Duke University Medical Center before going on to receive a Master’s Degree in Health Occupations Education at North Carolina State University and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Sarasota.
After completing her graduate program, Kirkpatrick served as an Associate Professor at Manatee Community College in Bradenton, FL, where she continued her research interests in human respiratory health and assessing clinical teaching effectiveness. In 1999, Kirkpatrick joined Mote Marine Laboratory as a staff scientist and shifted her research focus to environmental human health, particularly the respiratory effects linked to harmful algal blooms.
As a senior scientist and program manager at Mote Marine Laboratory, her continued research efforts focused on harmful algal blooms and the effects they have on humans. She was co-leader of the first major multi-institution study of Florida’s red tide on humans that was funded by the National Institutes of Health. The 11-year study was the first to scientifically document the impacts that red tide has on humans — particularly those who have chronic respiratory diseases.
She was the co-chair of the National Harmful Algal Bloom steering committee for six years and co-chaired the National HAB science meeting in 2013.
As Executive Director of GCOOS, she has been instrumental in broadening the scope of the ocean monitoring organization to include biological aspects of ocean monitoring — particularly monitoring for toxic algal blooms and marine animal movements.