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 restoring the ocean and coastal areas to a healthy state through a combination of action to address climate change, fishery reform, fully and highly protected marine areas, ecosystem-based management and marine spatial planning. 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 more than 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; twelve 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 is an 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; the Chilean Academy of Science, and the Pontifical 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, 24 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 the highest award given by the National Science Foundation, the Vannevar Bush Award. 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 Earth Leadership Program (formerly known as 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.