COLLEGE PARK (1/13/20) — Washington-based investigative and political reporter Bill Lambrecht has been named the inaugural visiting professional at the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
As visiting professional, Lambrecht will assist with science and environmental investigative projects, taking advantage of expertise across the UMD campus. He will work with Howard fellows in the master’s program to produce at least one investigative project during the spring and summer of 2020.
“Not only is Bill a terrific reporter, he is also a wonderful teacher,” Howard Center Director Kathy Best said. “Our investigative students will learn by doing from one of the best.”
Lambrecht spent most of his career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, first as a reporter, then as Washington bureau chief, producing groundbreaking investigations, many focused on the environment. Most recently, he covered politics and produced investigations for the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News and other Hearst newspapers.
He has won a number of national journalism prizes and is the author of two books, including the acclaimed “Dinner at the New Gene Café” on genetically modified food.
Lambrecht has covered presidential campaigns since the 1980s, attending 16 national conventions. Over the years, he has reported often at the intersection of politics and science on a variety of public policy matters, from biotechnology to biofuels to water policy on America’s big rivers.
For stories – and later a book – on the global uprising over genetically modified organisms, he traveled to 12 countries, including India and Peru. From Yemen, he reported on honor killings and abuse of women. For his groundbreaking work on the “Circle of Poison,” he reported across Central America on poisonings from pesticides banned or unregistered in the U.S. Back home, he documented the return of these dangerous chemicals on fruits and vegetables, relying on data obtained under Freedom of Information laws.
Lambrecht also reported from Nigeria on exploitative dumping. He demonstrated how U.S. computers and electronic cast-offs ended up polluting the West African countryside. Moreover, Nigerian fraudsters mined the computers for digital data. At a time when little was known about identity theft, hard-drives Lambrecht purchased in open markets in Lagos yielded Social Security numbers, medical records and even private photos of unsuspecting Americans.
He has long relied on water testing in environmental reporting. Samples he retrieved in South Africa contained some of the highest concentrations of mercury pollution on record. His reporting about the sham recycling of mercury wastes shipped from New Jersey triggered an international scandal. Similarly, his sampling of water on American Indian lands bolstered the case against illegal dumpers. And water testing in Missouri clearly demonstrated nitrogen damage to rivers and streams from the poultry industry.
Lambrecht also brings significant teaching experience to the role. As statehouse bureau chief for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Lambrecht spent six months a year for 10 years working with a graduate student assigned from the public affairs reporting class at the University of Illinois-Springfield. He continued to work with students at the paper’s Washington bureau.
Lambrecht earned his master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield, where he was the first graduate named to the program’s hall of fame. He has a B.A. in political science from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill.
He and his wife, journalist and Bay Weekly founder Sandra Olivetti Martin, live in Fairhaven, Md., on the Chesapeake Bay.