Scientist Al Beeton and Rep. Rashida Tlaib join Ecology Center board

Retired Great Lakes scientist Al Beeton and Rashida Tlaib, a state representative from Detroit, have been appointed to three-year terms the Ecology Center board of directors.

Al BeetonBeeton previously served two terms on the board, from 2007 to 2013, and was chair of the group for three years.

“He led our board during some challenging times and his guidance and experience were essential to helping us develop sustainable solutions to continue and expand our work,” according to Ecology Center director Michael Garfield.

Before his retirement from his academic career, Beeton was chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory from 1996 to 2002. He began researching the Great Lakes in 1955, and earned a Ph.D. in limnology and aquatic zoology from the University of Michigan.

In the late 1950s, he set up the U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, an environmental research group, and in 1966, he helped establish the Center for Great Lakes Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Beeton served as the director of the Great Lakes & Marine Waters Center at the University of Michigan in the 1970s, and held a faculty position at U-M’s School of Public Health.

Rashida TlaibTlaib has represented southwest Detroit and two adjacent downriver communities in the Michigan legislature for six years and will be term-limited out of office at the end of the current session.

“She's been involved for years in a number of environmental and environmental justice issues, and has worked with us on the pet-coke storage problem along the shores of the Detroit River,” Garfield says.

Tlaib called on the Ecology Center to test samples from the mountains of pet coke that were dumped in her district in 2013, in the shadow of the Ambassador Bridge, last year. The pet-coke dumping aroused environmental concerns at the local, state, national and international levels, and Tlaib was a leader in the advocacy work that led to the removal of the piles.

When she was elected in 2008, Tlaib became the first Muslim-American woman to serve in the Michigan Legislature, and only the second Muslim woman in history to be elected to any state legislature in America. The eldest of 14 children, Rashida Tlaib attended Detroit public schools and earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Wayne State University.

She went on to earn a law degree from Thomas Cooley Law School in 2004.

The appointments of Beeton and Tlaib to the board will be presented to the Ecology Center members for ratification at the annual meeting in spring 2015.