A nation with safe, healthy, and productive oceans and coasts
To provide science-based solutions through collaborative partnerships to address evolving economic, environmental, and social pressures on our oceans and coasts.
Dr. Holly A. Bamford is the assistant administrator for NOAA's National Ocean Service.
As Assistant Administrator, Dr. Bamford oversees NOS, which serves as the lead federal agency providing science-based solutions to address evolving economic, environmental, and social pressures on our oceans and coasts. NOS observes, measures, assesses, and manages the nation’s coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes areas; provides critical navigation products and services; and conducts response and restoration activities to protect vital coastal resources.
Prior to this appointment, she served as deputy assistant administrator for NOS, where she managed the financial and business operations while strategically improving the agency’s performance to meet its vast ocean science and service missions. As the deputy assistant administrator for NOS, Dr. Bamford led a comprehensive review of headquarters functions that identified efficiencies and oversaw implementation of the recommended review strategies that resulted in enhanced operations and programmatic coordination.
Dr. Bamford earned a Ph.D. in the field of organic environmental chemistry, quantifying the physical and chemical processes that control the transport and fate of organic contaminants. Conducting her research out of the University of Maryland's Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Dr. Bamford spent much of her time in the field and on research vessels gathering data in support of her research. She also spent a year as a guest researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology developing analytical methods to detect trace organic contaminants in water and air particles. Dr. Bamford has a number of peer-reviewed publications that have been widely referenced in the field of environmental chemistry and water quality, including papers in Environmental Science & Technology, Atmospheric Environment, and Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry. In her first position at NOAA, Dr. Bamford served as a senior member of the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research executive scientific support team.
In addition, Dr. Bamford brings significant leadership and management expertise—skills that were first honed when she acquired a bachelors degree in business management from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn. As the director of NOAA’s Marine Debris Program in the Office of Response and Restoration, she brought national recognition to issues related to marine debris and to the program, accomplishments that were recognized with a NOAA Administrator’s Award in 2008. Through her work as Marine Debris director and division chief, Dr. Bamford presented at a number of national and international meetings, academic institutions, as well as addressed the public through national media outlets including CNN, ABC, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Good Morning America, Rolling Stone, People, and the Wall Street Journal.
Dr. Bamford has also served on a number of science and advisory committees, including Chairperson on the Federal Interagency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee, the U.S. EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, the Potomac Advisory Council, a member of the U.S. delegation at the 6th session of the Law of the Sea, and at the 2007 Ocean Policy Forum in South Korea.
Throughout her academic and federal service, Dr. Bamford has received a number of prestigious awards for the demonstration of exceptional management, leadership, and partnership skills, including a NOAA Bronze Medal, NOAA Administrator’s Awards, Coastal America Presidential Partnership Awards, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Gulf Guardian Award. Her work in establishing the coordinated federal interagency marine debris effort and in addressing the issues behind the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” also earned her finalist status in 2010 for the prestigious Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal and was highlighted by the Washington Post in its December 21, 2009 Federal Player Profile column.