Cross-posted from Urbanite.
In 1983, with the encouragement and support of iconic landscape photographer Ansel Adams, Susan Shaw wrote Overexposure, a research book on the dangers of photographic chemicals. With an M.F.A. from Columbia University already in hand, she completed a Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences from Columbia's School of Public Health. She was among the first researchers to document and study the presence of perfluorinated chemicals, flame retardants, and cancer-causing chemicals -- many found in consumer products -- in the tissue of harbor seals and marine fishes.
Shaw is the founder and director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute in Blue Hill, Maine, and a professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the State University of New York in Albany. A well-known figure in the fight against ocean pollution, she has provided commentary in several documentary films on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, including Animal Planet's Black Tide: Voices of the Gulf and Green Planet's The Big Fix, which was an official selection documentary at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
Last year, the Society of Women Geographers named Shaw its Gold Medal Award recipient, the organization's highest honor, first given to Amelia Earhart in 1933.