When the Steamship Authority governors meet Tuesday in Woods Hole, there will be a new face at the table.

Falmouth selectmen have appointed scientist Elizabeth Gladfelter as their new representative on the boat line’s executive board. The seat had been vacant since December, following the death of former Falmouth representative Cathy Norton, who had battled cancer.

Ms. Gladfelter, a former member of the Falmouth conservation commission, begins her three-year term at a time of transformation for the SSA. The ferry service is embarking on two major capital projects: the rebuilding of the Woods Hole terminal, and the construction of a new ferry. Both endeavors are costly, but it’s the new terminal project that’s ruffled feathers in Woods Hole, where some residents fear renovations will increase traffic through their quaint port community.

The Steamship Authority has worked with the community to resolve these issues, but there is more work to be done, Ms. Gladfelter said .

“Really that’s what I do best, try to get people together to talk about these issues,” she said in a phone interview last week.

A scientist with a PhD in biology, Ms. Gladfelter studied coral reef science on the Caribbean island of St. Croix for many years before moving to West Falmouth.

Since 1997, she has been a guest investigator at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, facilitating research relationships between WHOI and the University of the Virgin Islands.

“My strength is getting people to talk with one another,” she said.

Originally reluctant, Ms. Gladfelter applied to serve on the board of governors at the urging of her friends.

“To be perfectly honest, I asked a lot of close friends, hoping they would say, are you crazy? You don’t want to do that,” she said. “But instead, they said, hey, that’s a good idea, and I decided to apply.”

Over the years, Ms. Gladfelter has visited the Vineyard to spend time with friends and to run, often participating in the Island’s annual 20-miler race.

But she’s more familiar with the ferry line’s impact on the Falmouth community. “The Steamship is a big economic engine for Woods Hole, even in the winter time,” she said.

Over the short-term, Ms. Gladfelter said she would like to work with the boat line and the town of Falmouth to resolve some of the traffic and safety concerns on Woods Hole Road.

The Shining Sea Bikeway, a popular bike path, intersects the ferry access road at two dangerous junctures, and Ms. Gladfelter, who runs along the bike path frequently, said she would like to help prevent accidents there.

While she is in favor of the new Woods Hole terminal, Ms. Gladfelter said she would like to facilitate more conversations about the project with people of Falmouth.

“Remember it’s not just the Woods Hole community, it’s the whole Falmouth community,” she said. “My job is to represent them in decisions.”

A former St. Croix resident, Ms. Gladfelter said she feels an affinity with the Vineyard and Nantucket. “I have lived on an island, so I understand what the importance of the Steamship Authority is,” she said.

At a meeting on March 2, Ms. Gladfelter received the endorsement of three of the five Falmouth selectmen. The other governor candidates were S. Eric Asendorf, Joseph Martyna and James Morse.

Like her predecessor, Ms. Gladfelter will be the only woman on the five-member board, but she said she was unfazed.

“It’s fine, people are people,” she said. “I don’t feel one way or the other.”