From: SeaWeb
Published December 22, 2008 11:18 AM

Marine Ecologist and Former SeaWeb Board Member Jane Lubchenco Could Steer NOAA in a New Direction

Jane Lubchenco, a professor of marine biology at Oregon State University and one of America's leading ocean scientists, is President-elect Barack Obama's top pick to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). If Congress approves Obama's selection, she would be the first expert in communicating marine science and first woman to actively lead NOAA in the agency's 38-year history.

As a former board member of SeaWeb and a founding principal of one of SeaWeb's partners, the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea (COMPASS), Lubchenco has helped these organizations lead the charge in bringing marine science into the discussion of ocean issues. In addition, she founded and co-leads the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program, which teaches scientists to be more effective communicators to the public, policy-makers and the media.

SeaWeb President Dawn Martin says that: "Jane is a visionary choice; no one is more qualified. Her lifelong dedication, amazing intellect and keen understanding of the ocean have always given us hope for the future of our planet. Now she has a critical platform from which she can use her inspiring ability to communicate critical marine science clearly and effectively infuse it into the policy arena. The ocean covers three-quarters of our planet. Thanks to President-elect Obama, it finally can have the champion it deserves!"

As a teacher and a researcher, Lubchenco also leads the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), a team of scientists who study near-shore ecosystems off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California. Part of COMPASS' and SeaWeb's work has focused on the benefits of an integrated, ecosystem-based framework for ocean management. Martin hopes an ecosystem-based approach will become integral to NOAA's conservation efforts under Lubchenco: "Only through a lens that evaluates entire marine ecosystems will we truly be able to monitor and ensure a healthy ocean."

Lubchenco has also highlighted climate change impacts on the marine environment. As a functioning ocean is essential to regulating climate and sustaining the human, animal and plant life on our planet, Martin stresses the importance of marine science informing policies addressing climate and other environmental issues: "At no other time in human history has the health of the ocean been so vital, yet so in peril. The United States needs to take a leading role in conserving and restoring its health—now and for future generations."

Lubchenco's potential appointment is already receiving approval from sectors of the scientific community. Lubchenco is a past-president of the International Council for Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. And she has received numerous awards, including a MacArthur ("genius") Fellowship, and eight honorary degrees. Jeremy Jackson, director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, Calif., stated, "She will instantly reestablish the United States' credibility in the environmental sciences."

SeaWeb ( is an international, nonprofit organization that uses strategic communications to advance ocean conservation. We convey marine science clearly to leaders able to drive change in policy and in the marketplace, from decision-makers and scientists to chefs promoting healthy, sustainable seafood and traditional fishers aiming to preserve local marine life. Through dialogue among these diverse voices, SeaWeb connects science to collaborative, innovative solutions that catalyze positive changes that protect and restore the ocean's health.

Contact Info: Anne Bolen
Communications Manager, SeaWeb
Ph: 301.830.7087; Fax: 301.495.4846

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