Deborah Lee is the director of NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL), conducting integrated scientific research on the Great Lakes and coastal ecosystems. In addition to her role as director of GLERL, Ms. Lee serves as NOAA's Regional Team Lead for the Great Lakes, facilitating collaboration across a network of more than 800 NOAA employees and partners representing the agency’s diverse capabilities across the region. To her position at GLERL, Ms. Lee brings 37 years of professional experience in water resources and ecosystem research and management at NOAA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Prior to her current assignment, she served as the Chief of Water Management for the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 2001 to 2014. In that role, she directed lower Ohio and Mississippi River flood control and oversight of Great Lakes regulation. During that time, she served a detail as the Acting Regional Business Director and Dam and Levee Safety Officer from July 2013 to July 2014. Ms. Lee is a licensed professional engineer, certified professional hydrologist, and board certified by the American Academy of Water Resources Engineers. She has received multiple awards, including three Superior Civilian Service Awards, certificates of appreciation from the International Joint Commission and the Mississippi River Commission, International Joint Commission Award of Merit for Professional Contribution, and the 2017 NOAA Research Inclusion and Diversity Award. Following her 4-year service on the ASCE EWRI Governing Board, she received the 2022 American Society of Civil Engineers President’s Medal. Ms. Lee holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from The Ohio State University and completed post-graduate civil and environmental engineering studies at the University of Michigan.