President-elect Obama has selected Dr. Jane Lubchenco to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In 2004 Lubchenco received the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) Distinguished Scientist Award, which has been presented annually since 1972 to individuals who have made significant contributions in biological science, with a focus on the fields of integrative and organismal biology. Dr. Lubchenco’s research interests cover a broad range of disciplines, including marine biology, biodiversity, climate change, and environmental sustainability. Lubchenco is an innovative marine scientist and has been a prominent advocate for marine conservation research. Moreover, she has also been a powerful and articulate voice over the years for the role of science in serving humanity and the environment.
Dr. Lubchenco is the Wayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology and Distinguished Professor of Zoology at Oregon State University. She is one of the nation’s leading marine biologists and a prominent conservationist and has spent most of her career encouraging more scientists to get engaged in public policy issues. Some of her public policy efforts include the establishment of the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program, which teaches academic environmental scientists how to be effective leaders and communicators, and the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea (COMPASS), a collaboration between academic scientists and media specialists that communicates marine conservation science matters to policy makers, media, managers, and the public.
NOAA’s mission is to enrich life through science, by providing planners and policy makers with cutting-edge scientific information and enabling them to forecast weather, monitor climate, manage fisheries, restore coasts, and support marine commerce. In recent years, NOAA has experienced some turbulent times. Agency scientists have reported feeling political pressure to remain silent when scientific findings could be viewed as inconvenient to the Bush Administration’s political priorities. Additionally, the agency has been scrutinized for cost overruns on a major environmental satellite program. All this while the agency must also oversee marine biodiversity conservation programs and manage the commercial fisheries, among many other research and resource management functions. NOAA’s budget of roughly $4 billion represents approximately half the budget of its parent organization, the Department of Commerce.
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