MEET THOMAS CRISMAN –
BETWEEN ACADEMIA, GOVERNMENT AND RETIREMENT
From his home base in Florida, Thomas L. Crisman, Ph.D. has long served the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF). He was first appointed to the Board of Governors by the State Department in 1997 and has since served two terms as Board Chair, once in 2001/02 and again in 2013/14.
Thomas L. Crisman, Ph.D.
Today, Crisman chuckles, “I’m between academia, government and retirement.” His career has spanned 40 years, and his research specialty is in high demand globally. He specializes in the ecology, conservation, management and restoration of fresh water ecosystems. He has travelled the world conducting research and advising governments and the private sector in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, northern Greece and the Balkans to name a few.
He is now on special assignment for one year, taking time off from his position as Professor jointly in the Department of Integrative Biology and Department of Environmental & Occupational Health at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Through July of this year, he serves as a prestigious Jefferson Science Fellow in the U.S. Department of State, where he is an advisor on global water issues in the Office of Conservation and Water in the Bureau of Oceans, Environment & Science. The Jefferson Science Fellowship was developed ten years ago to bring senior level scientists to the Department of State to help integrate science with foreign policy.
In his academic career, Crisman has managed over $12 million of research funding, graduated over 110 Ph.D. and M.S. students, presented over 250 presentations at scientific meetings throughout the world and authored over 160 refereed journal articles, book chapters and books. His personal experience has matched well with the issues of concern to the BSF Board of Governors.
Crisman believes the most important goal of BSF is to develop long term partnerships and strengthen relations between scientists in Israel and the United States. He loves the new BSF Transformation Science awards that began in 2010 and the new partnership with the National Science Foundation that began in 2012. “We can get brilliant young people started. And, we build up associations between scientists that last a lifetime. This cross fertilization of ideas creates innovation,” he says of the programs.
“I have grown to personally appreciate my fellow Board of Governor members, the country of Israel and the Israeli people.” The issues that board members wrestle with are never political. “It’s science,” he relates, “our challenges are many including how to increase the amount of funding we have available for our highest rated proposals.”
Crisman can trace his American roots back to 1680 through his Irish and Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. His family worked on railroads in the Chicago area for 120 years, prior to his generation. While he serves on the BSF Board at the pleasure of the State Department, he is honored to represent his county in this capacity. Crisman did not serve in the armed forces but believes passionately that we all should serve our country in some way. His current fellowship and his service with the BSF are two examples of how he gives back to the United States. He believes this is true of all members of the Board of Governors; each board member serves to advance the common good.