The Honorable Dr. Jane Lubchenco

Dr. Lubchenco is a world-renowned marine biologist and environmental scientist who has deep experience in the worlds of science, academia, public engagement and government. She served as the U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 2009-2013. From 2014-2016, she was the first U.S. State Department Science Envoy for the Ocean, serving as a science diplomat to China, Indonesia, South Africa, Mauritius and the Seychelles.

She received her B.A. in biology from Colorado College, her M.S. in zoology from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in ecology from Harvard University. Her academic career as a professor began at Harvard University (1975-1977) and continued at Oregon State University (1977­-2009) until her appointment as NOAA Administrator. She returned to OSU to help champion the Marine Studies Initiative.

Lubchenco is passionate about promoting the discovery, communication and use of scientific knowledge in policy, management and public understanding. She is a strong champion of recovering the ocean and coastal areas to a healthy state through a combination of fishery reform, fully protected marine parks, ecosystem-based management and marine spatial planning, reducing the rate of climate change and ocean acidification, and adapting to changes already underway. She is a staunch proponent of working with local communities to achieve triple bottom-line wins of social, economic and environmental benefit.

She has been recognized as an innovative and gifted teacher by undergraduate and graduate students, e.g., receiving the ‘Outstanding Teacher Award’ early in her career at OSU. Her courses emphasize a combination of the mystery, majesty, relevance and excitement of science, and the importance of scientists engaging with society. The 30 Ph.D. students, 10 M.S., 15 Postdoctoral students, and dozens of undergraduate students who completed their studies under her direction have gone on to successful careers as stellar scientists, gifted administrators, inspiring teachers, helpful mentors, sought-after consultants, and effective governmental and non-governmental scientists.      

Lubchenco is one of the “most highly cited” ecologists in the world; eight of her publications are “Science Citation Classic Papers.” She is best known for her research explaining causes of patterns of biodiversity, the factors underlying patterns of distribution and abundance of rocky seashore species, impacts and design of marine protected areas and marine reserves, impacts of climate change and ocean acidification, hypoxia, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, and marine spatial planning. In recognition of her scientific contributions, she was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the American Philosophical Society; the Royal Society; The World Academy of Science; and the Chilean Academy of Science.

Lubchenco has received numerous awards recognizing her innovative scientific contributions, effective leadership roles, policy and management accomplishments and public outreach efforts, including a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship, 20 honorary doctorates, the Heinz Award for the Environment, the Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in Policy, the Blue Planet Prize, The World Academy of Sciences Medal, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, the Linus Pauling Legacy Award, and the most prestigious award given by the National Academy of Sciences, the Public Welfare Medal. And for her public service, she received the highest honor the Coast Guard gives to a civilian, the U. S. Coast Guard Public Service Award.

Lubchenco has led numerous efforts to advance scientific knowledge of a range of topics including climate change, biodiversity, conservation, sustainable fisheries, sustainable aquaculture, hypoxia, ocean acidification and a healthy ocean. She co-founded a place-based research consortium, PISCO, that studies the near-shore ocean along the coasts of Oregon and California and resulted in significant advancement in knowledge as well as improved public awareness and management. PISCO research informs fishery management, citizen-science, conservation organization activities, and state and federal policies.    

Lubchenco has been in the forefront of sustained efforts to inspire, incentivize and enable scientists to serve society by being more engaged with citizens and leaders. She co-founded three non-profit, non-advocacy organizations that enhance communication of scientific knowledge to the public, policy makers, media and industry. The Leopold Leadership Program trains mid-career academic environmental scientists to be effective leaders and communicators. COMPASS enables scientist to engage, and engage effectively, in the public discourse about the environment through communication trainings, coaching and networking.  Climate Central researches and reports the science and impacts of climate change. Each of these three start-ups is now a thriving organization that is enabling science and scientists to better serve society.