Over 30 Years of Environmental Impact Research
In 1990, Dr. Susan Shaw established the Marine & Environmental Research Institute (MERI), a nonprofit charitable organization with an environmental health research mission. This began her long-term marine sentinels research on contaminants and endocrine-disrupting effects in marine mammals that became a central focus over the next two decades. In 2018, MERI Trustees announced a name change to the Shaw Institute to acknowledge Dr. Shaw and honor her legacy of 30 years of environmental impact research. The new name also accommodates her vision and the organization’s expanded research portfolio. The Center for Environmental Studies was renamed the Blue Hill Research Center in recognition of the Maine community that serves as the organization’s home. Dr. Shaw passed away in 2022 and the Institute today works to further her vision and support the legacy she left behind.
The Shaw Institute continues to focus on understanding exposure levels, sources, pathways, and associations between chemical exposures and health outcomes – for both ocean life and people. We collaborate with environmental and human health researchers on multidisciplinary studies to understand and find solutions to current environmental health problems. We have expertise in the assessment of diverse classes of chemicals in marine mammal and human tissues, including the halogenated flame retardants and perfluorinated chemicals. Our pioneering studies on these topics are highly cited in environmental literature sources.
We have contributed significantly to understanding the impact of pollutants and plasticizer chemicals on highly exposed wildlife and human populations. Our research into PCBs, flame retardants, oil dispersants, and other pervasive toxic chemicals continues the tradition of Rachel Carson and other scientists whose research has become part of an informed public conversation, and who actively promote policies that will improve environmental protection and human health.
Today, the Institute conducts rigorous scientific research in collaboration with scientists and institutions across the country and around the world. We advocate on behalf of a clean environment, wildlife protection and human health, and we make the results of our research widely available through publications, education programs, environmental media, and public testimony. Learn about our research focus, the services we provide and our collaborative projects.