Dr. Rusty Brainard

Dr. Rusty Brainard

Chief Environment Officer, The Red Sea Project;

Dr. Rusty Brainard is Chief Environmental Sustainability Officer with The Red Sea Project, striving to establish new global standards for environmentally-sustainable luxury tourism development. The Red Sea Project is committed to carbon neutrality (through 100% renewable power, clean mobility, habitat enhancement, sequestration, and sustainable food production), enhancement of conservation value of 30% by 2040 (as measured by status of biodiversity), zero single-use plastics, alignment with all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, and many other efforts to ensure sustainability.

Previously, Rusty was supervisory oceanographer and founding Chief of the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center in Honolulu (2001-2019). Rusty led CRED’s 60-member interdisciplinary, ecosystem-based research program that conducts integrated ecosystem observations, long-term monitoring, and applied research of the coral reefs of the U.S. Pacific Islands to support ecosystem-based management and conservation. Rusty’s team monitored the distribution, abundance, diversity, and condition of fish, corals, other invertebrates, algae, and microbes in the context of their diverse benthic habitats, and changing ocean climate conditions, including ocean warming and ocean acidification.

From 2010-2016, Rusty served as NOAA’s Technical Lead for the US Coral Triangle Initiative’s Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) theme to provide technical assistance and capacity building for the CTI on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security, a 6 country ocean governance agreement to address the threats facing the marine resources of the most biologically diverse and ecologically rich regions on earth. In 2010-2011, Rusty chaired the Biological Review Team in developing a Status Review Report assessing the status of and risk of extinction to 82 species of corals petitioned for listing under the US Endangered Species Act. From 2010-2015, Rusty served as co-PI of a NOAA-NSF project “Comparative Analysis of Natural and Human Influences on Coral Reef Community Structure, Diversity, and Resilience”. Rusty served on the Ocean Carbon & Biogeochemistry Ocean Acidification Subcommittee, whose mission is to study ocean acidification’s effects on marine ecosystems and biogeochemistry. From 2005-2010, Rusty was co-PI of the Census of Coral Reef Ecosystems project of the Census of Marine Life developing tools to systematically monitor the biodiversity of coral reefs.