Sort Order: 

Integrative Biology professor Jane Lubchenco has been called many names:  environmental scientist, University Professor, marine ecologist, scholar, administrator, advisor, Under Secretary, science visionary, distinguished visitor among others. Recently, she has added three more names and honors to the growing list:  medal recipient, award-winning science communicator and US Science Envoy.

Building on a new commitment to improved marine protection and management, the U.S. Department of State has named Jane Lubchenco as the first Science Envoy for the Oceans. This fourth cohort of the US Science Envoy Program,is the first time one of the eminent scientists involved in the initiative has a specific focus on the world’s oceans.

“This new focus on the oceans is a strong statement by the Secretary of State and President Obama about the importance of our oceans to people around the world,” Lubchenco said. “They understand that science-based understanding, policy and management hold the key to a healthy, productive and resilient ocean, people and communities.”

Lubchenco also received The World Academy of Sciences Medal for outstanding achievement in science and the Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication. Later this month she will be presenting a lecture on “Delivering Science’s social contract” at the World Academy of Sciences awards ceremony in Oman in Southwest Asia. 

The World Academy of Sciences strives to promote science and develop scientific capacity in the developing world. Lubchenco represented them as an elected member of the academy for her scientific discoveries in marine ecology and for her efforts to strengthen science in the developing world. She also served as President of the International Council for Science, a non-governmental organization that is the voice of international, interdisciplinary science. 

Climate One at the Commonwealth Club awarded Lubchenco the fourth annual Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication. The $15,000 award is given to a natural or social scientist who has made extraordinary scientific contributions and communicated that knowledge to a broad public in a clear and compelling fashion. The award was established in memory of Stephen H. Schneider, one of the founding fathers of climatology, who died in 2010.

Lubchenco was a unanimous choice. The jurors agreed that she exemplifies the rare ability to be both a superb scientist and a powerful communicator in the mold of Stephen Schneider. 

“Throughout her distinguished career, Jane Lubchenco has been that rare combination: an outstanding environment scientist and an outspoken champion of scientific engagement and communication with policy makers, the media, and the public. Her leadership in the crucial area of marine ecology and climate made her a perfect choice for the Schneider award,” said juror Cristine Russell, a science journalist. “She also co-founded three important organizations dedicated to improving science communication and the health of the world’s oceans.” 

Lubchenco praises Schneider: 

“Steve Schneider was a pioneer in thinking holistically about the many facets of climate change and in sharing climate science with the world. He not only expanded the frontiers of science, but he thought deeply about what the knowledge meant and the moral responsibilities scientists have to act on that knowledge. It is a deep honor to receive the award that honors and celebrates Steve the scientist, the communicator and the person.”   

Lubchenco played a tremendous role in addressing environmental challenges on a global scale. She served as Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 2009 – 2013, the first woman to be appointed to this position. During her tenure, she helped guide the country after environmental disasters, such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, 770 tornadoes, 70 Atlantic hurricanes/tropical storms including Super Storm Sandy, six major floods, three tsunamis, historic drought and wildfires, prolonged heat waves and record snowfall/blizzards.  

Under her leadership, NOAA launched the “Weather Ready Nation” initiative to help build resilience and improve on-the-ground responses to extreme water and weather events. NOAA also led federal agency efforts to develop the most ambitious National Climate Assessment ever conducted. Lubchenco championed NOAA’s efforts to create a Scientific Integrity Policy that forbids politicization of science and allows NOAA scientists to communicate freely with the media.

Throughout her career, Lubchenco has had a monumental presence in bringing international prominence and global leadership to marine studies, education, policy and outreach at OSU.  

These honors speak highly of her accomplishments and the global perspective she brings to her work, says OSU College of Science Dean Sastry Pantula. As a highly regarded marine scientist around the world, she continues to bring recognition, excellence and pride to the Department of Integrative Biology, the College of Science, Oregon State University and to our nation, adds Pantula.

“Jane has made invaluable contributions to marine ecology with her seminal research and has expanded our understanding of the world,” said Pantula. “Her dedication to scientific discovery and inquiry inspires us all. I extend my deepest congratulations to her on these well-deserved honors.”

Lubchenco’s research interests include biodiversity, climate change, sustainable use of oceans and the planet, and interactions between the environment and human well-being.  

She received a BA in biology from Colorado College, an MS in zoology from the University of Washington, and a PhD in marine ecology from Harvard University. Lubchenco has served as a professor at Harvard University and the Haas Distinguished Visitor in Public Service at Stanford University. Currently, she is the Distinguished University Professor and also Advisor in Marine Studies at OSU, where she will play a key role in launching the university’s new Marine Studies Initiative.

Lubchenco has been a major influence and mentor for science students, building generations of scientists and leaders since 1978 when she first arrived at Oregon State. She has served as a strong role model for women and has proactively enhanced diversity in the Integrative Biology department. 


Related stories:

US Department of State

The Daily Barometer

Climate One at The Commonwealth Club

Debbie Farris
Publish Date: 
Thursday, October 16, 2014