Dr. John Ward’s interest in learning didn’t kick in until he started taking both geology and economic classes. These classes piqued his interest and while he originally intended to go into law, his professor, Professor James Wilson, enlightened Dr. Ward in the field of fishery economics. In addition to introducing him to this field, Professor Wilson also introduced him to Mart Miller, who worked for the National Marine Fishery Service. Mr. Miller became another integral figure in his career, mentoring him and helping him find a job.
Dr. Ward first earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science at the University of Maine and continued at the institution to receive a Master of Arts in economics in 1979. He later received a PhD in economics from the University of Rhode Island in 1992. In his career, he has worked in both the field and in academia. He served as a senior economist with the National Marine Fisheries Service from 1987 to 1997. In 1997, he was promoted to Chief Economist with the organization. In addition to working at this organization, he began teaching as an adjunct professor of food and resource sciences at the University of Florida, and also as an adjunct professor at the College of William and Mary. From 2003 to 2010, Dr. Ward was also an adjunct professor at the University of Rhode Island. In 2012, he became an economist with the Virginia Marine Advisory Program with the Institute of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary. Also starting in 2003 is his position as Industry Team Leader of the National Marine Fisheries Service.
In his career, he has contributed to the field by developing a biophysical economic dynamic ecosystem computer simulation model. He had also developed a Gulf of Mexico bio-economic shrimp fishery management computer simulation model. The highlight of Dr. Ward’s occurred in recent years during his time with the national economics program within the National Marine Fishery Service. The National Marine Fishery Service had gone through an evolution where more and more resources were being devoted to population dynamic because that it is what the lawyers were getting sued about. It was then suggested to the agency to focus on the biological sciences. Around this time, Dr. Ward was asked to put together this national economics program, when he heard that Congress had reauthorized regulatory flexibility act and part of that authorization made it judicially reviewable. Dr. Ward contacted the lawyers to talk to about it as they had just lost three cases because the economics had not been done properly according to the judges. He was able to enlist the general counsel and Dan Cohen to support him in selling this program to the directors. Dr. Ward had a number of presentations to those groups. The end result was that there are now somewhere around 70 economists and other types of social scientists working for the National Marine Fishery Service because of this program.