Chesterton Tribune



Richard Whitman, groundbreaking USGS scientist here, to retire Februrary 28

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The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist who--nearly single-handedly--made the Indiana Dunes a cutting-edge site in the country for the study of E. coli, beach health, and predictive modeling is retiring after 25 years of service.

Dr. Richard Whitman, chief of the USGS Lake Michigan Ecological Research Station in Porter, will retire on Feb. 28.

Whitman earned his Ph.D. at Texas A & M University in aquatic ecology and, as an associate professor of biology, taught at Indiana University Northwest before being hired as Chief Scientist at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Whitman then served as Station Chief for the USGS, co-located at the National Lakeshore for 20 years.

Whitman has specialized in recreational water quality of Great Lakes beaches and swimming waters, with a focus on microbiological and ecological interactions.

“His groundbreaking work identifying natural populations of bacteria, thought only to be present in human sewage, changed scientific thinking, our understanding of E. coli bacteria, and the monitoring of recreational water for human health risk worldwide,” USGS said in a statement released on Wednesday. “His studies on bacteria concentrations in beach sand, forest soils, and algae have been recognized as pioneering work in this field.”

Whitman has published over 100 scholarly journal articles and reports and several books, and he co-founded the Great Lakes Beach Association, an international organization of beach managers, scientists, and policy makers which now numbers more than 1,100 members.

“Whitman’s expertise has been invaluable to local, state, federal, and nonprofit agencies around the Great Lakes, including the Indiana Dunes federal and state parks, cities of Milwaukee, Chicago, Gary, Michigan City, and other Great Lake states,” USGS said. “In the course of his expansive career, samples from virtually every water body in Northwest Indiana and Chicago have passed through Whitman’s laboratory for biological and chemical analysis, with his findings impacting daily decision-making for people and water throughout the region.”


Posted 2/20/2014