Ron has conducted research in coastal and estuarine ecosystems since 1971. His research includes coastal ecosystem restoration; adaptive management of restored systems; benthic primary production; climate change; carbon storage in restored coastal systems, and ecology of fisheries resources.
Over his 42-year professional career, Ron has directed approximately 200 multidisciplinary ecological studies on systems in California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Massachusetts, New York, Nebraska, and Alabama. He is very widely published in this area and has made hundreds of professional presentations, and has served on numerous professional committees.
From 1985-1989, Ron chaired the Technical Advisory Committee of the EPA’s Puget Sound Estuary Program. Between 1991 and 2013, he managed the Coastal Ecosystem technical group at Pacific Northwest National Labs.
Because of the growing international reputation of his group, Ron was invited to South Korea in 2009 to present a keynote address on Coastal Ecosystem Restoration. In 2010, he signed an agreement for joint cooperative research in coastal restoration between PNNL and East China Normal University- State Key Laboratory of Estuarine & Coastal Research in Shanghai, the main lab in China studying coastal restoration. That collaboration continues through exchange of visiting scholars, staff, graduate students, joint proposals, and co-authored papers.
In 2010, Ron was appointed to the Science Team of the Northwest Straits Commission, and in 2014 was appointed to lead the Science Advisory team and was elected to NWSC's executive committee. He is also a former member of the Clallam County Marine Resources Committee. Since 2009, Ron has served on the Expert Regional Technical Group (ETRG) that evaluates restoration project proposals aimed at restoring ecosystem health and salmon in the Columbia River Estuary Ecosystem Restoration Program (CEERP). CEERP is among the largest estuarine restoration programs on the west coast. In 2011, Ron served as a member of the EPA Science Advisory Board panel reviewing the Great Lakes Restoration Program. In 2010, he was elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences based on career accomplishments, and in 2012, he was elected to the Academy's Board of Directors. The Academy advises the Governor on science and medical issues affecting the State. In 2013, Ron served on a panel to advise the State of Louisiana on an adaptive management program for restoring their coastline.
Ron was selected to Chair the 2015 Conference of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF). CERF is the largest international scientific organization focused on these ecosystems. He was also selected to co-Chair the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. He presently serves as Senior Science Advisor for the Puget Sound Partnership. He is also serving on a National Research Council panel that is providing guidance on monitoring effectiveness of restoration actions in the Gulf of Mexico.
Ron has been an Affiliate Associate Professor, School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences, University of Washington since 1991. He has taught courses in coastal science and ecosystem restoration for the Western Washington University program at Peninsula College periodically since the mid-1990s.