Bays and Bayous

Speakers (Keynote)

Keynote Speakers


Alonzo Plough, Vice President, Research-Evaluation-Learning and Chief Science Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

"Building community resilience through a culture of health"

Alonzo L. Plough, Ph.D., Master of Public Health, joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as vice president, Research-Evaluation-Learning and chief science officer in January 2014. He leads the Foundation's long-standing focus on building the evidence base to foster innovation in health services and systems and improve population health. He is also responsible for foundation-wide organizational learning and the two program areas that support those activities, the global and pioneer teams. 

Dr. Plough brought to the foundation his extensive leadership experience in public health, most recently at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Plough also served 10 years as director and health officer for the Seattle and King County Department of Public Health and before that served as director of public health in Boston for eight years.

Dr. Plough served as vice president of strategy, planning and evaluation for The California Endowment, a Los Angeles based health foundation from 2005–2009. He led the Endowment’s strategic planning and development, evaluation, research, and organizational learning activities.

His academic career includes his current appointment as professor of health services at the University of Washington, School of Public Health in Seattle and previous faculty positions at Harvard University School of Public Health, Tufts University Department of Community Medicine, and Boston University School of Management. He has been the recipient of numerous awards for public service and leadership and is the author of an extensive body of scholarly articles, books and book chapters.

Plough earned his Ph.D. and MA at Cornell University, and his MPH at Yale University School of Medicine’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. He did his undergraduate work at St. Olaf College, where he earned a BA.


Clay Porch, Director, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service

Dr. Clay Porch received his Ph.D. from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in 1993 and has been working with NOAA Fisheries' Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) ever since. He started his career serving as the lead assessment scientist for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, one of the world's most iconic species, and has led or participated at one time or another in the assessments of most of the species under the purview of the SEFSC including Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper. He has served as the Director of the Sustainable Fisheries division at the SEFSC since 2007, where he supervises the assessments and associated research in support of three Federal Fishery Management Councils and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT).

He is an internationally recognized expert in the field of fishery stock assessments and has written over 150 technical reports and peer-reviewed journal articles. He also serves as the Overall Coordinator for the Bluefin Tuna Working group at ICCAT and as a member of a number of influential steering committees including the Marine Resource Educational Partnership (where he is also a featured lecturer), National Stock Assessment workshop, Integrative Tracking of Aquatic Animals in the Gulf of Mexico (ITAG) and the Atlantic-wide Bluefin Tuna Research program.

Prior to joining NOAA Fisheries, Dr. Porch was a licensed commercial fisherman specializing in the collection of marine fish for the aquarium trade. While he can no longer participate in the trade owing to his current position at NOAA Fisheries, he remains an avid recreational angler and scuba diver.


Denise Reed, Chief Scientist, The Water Institute of the Gulf 

"Thinking about the future to guide restoration action today"

Denise Reed, Ph.D., is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in coastal marsh sustainability and the role of human activities in modifying coastal systems. She has studied coastal issues in the United States and around the world for over 30 years.

Dr. Reed has worked closely with Louisiana’s state government in developing coastal restoration plans, including the 2012 and 2017 Coastal Master Plans. Her experience includes field research on the response of coastal wetlands to sea-level rise, ecosystem restoration and planning in the California Bay-Delta, and review and advisory roles of a number of federal water resource planning issues including post-Sandy work in the northeast and restoration planning in Puget Sound. She has served on numerous boards and panels addressing the effects of human alterations on coastal environments and the role of science in guiding restoration, including a number of National Research Council committees.

Prior to joining The Water Institute of the Gulf, Dr. Reed served as Interim Director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences and as a professor in the University of New Orleans’ Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

She has recently been a member of the Chief of Engineers Environmental Advisory Board and currently serves on the NOAA Science Advisory Board. She earned a bachelor's and doctoral degree in geography from the University of Cambridge.