A Farewell to Dr. John Lopez

Dr. John Lopez has been an integral member of Pontchartrain Conservancy since its founding in 1989.


He was a founding volunteer, board member and stepped in as the Executive Director of PC for 4 years from 2010 to 2014. While Executive Director, he managed the reconstruction of the New Canal Lighthouse, which opened in 2013. For over 16 years, John has led and founded PC’s Coast and Community Program. The Coast and Community Program’s goal is to conduct a scientific investigation into coastal issues in the Pontchartrain Basin, to inform advocacy for coastal restoration initiatives, and to ensure the sustainability of coastal ecosystems for future generations. John has deservingly received a Certificate of Appreciation from Pontchartrain Conservancy twice.

Born and raised in New Orleans, John holds a Ph.D. in Applied Science and Engineering from the University of New Orleans, Masters in Geology from the University of Southern California, and a Bachelors of Science in Geology from Louisiana State University. Before working at PC, John worked in the oil and gas industry, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and created his own coastal consulting firm Delta Science, LLC. For the past 12 years, John was on the Executive Committee of the Mississippi River Delta Coalition. John’s career is extensive through the awards he has received, memberships to committees and organizations, technical works he has published, and his field experience to make all of this work possible.

John has received many awards and recognitions over the years, most notably the  Conservationist of the Year Award in 2008 from the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, Coastal Stewardship Award from CRCL, and a Coastal Zone Conference Award from NOAA.  Most recently, he was featured in a NY Times article,  where he was described as “...a Kris Kristofferson type with a pleasingly gruff demeanor!”

He was the lead researcher for the Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy which was championed in 2005. The strategy highlights how natural features of our coast complement man-made features to protect the Greater New Orleans area from hurricanes. The Multiple Lines of Defense strategy is now widely accepted and popular throughout the state. As part of the investigation of the 2011 Mississippi River flood, John and his coastal team documented the development of Mardi Gras Pass as the Mississippi River’s newest distributary. John and his coastal team also developed a coastal monitoring program called “Hydrocoast Maps.” The maps updated bi-weekly display the hydrology for Pontchartrain and Barataria Basin. John’s achievements while at PC are an exhaustive list of actions and developments made to better sustain the coast.

John is a leader in coastal sustainability and we cherish his time and work with us and the many contributions by Sharon his wife toward the success of PC. We will continue the work that he started towards protecting the coast for future generations. Thank you and Sharon for a lifetime full of work and commitment to the mission of Pontchartrain Conservancy and to protecting Louisiana's Coast. Pontchartrain Conservancy wishes you all the best in your next endeavor in life!

View Some of Dr. Lopez’s scientific publications here!