MBARI president Marcia McNutt to be nominated as director of U.S. Geological Survey

Marcia McNutt

President Obama announced last week his intent to nominate Marcia McNutt, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz and president and CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), as director of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and science adviser to the Secretary of the Interior. Interior secretary Ken Salazar also announced his endorsement of McNutt for the position.

McNutt has led MBARI since 1997 and joined the UCSC faculty in 1998. She would be the first woman director of USGS since its establishment in 1879. The nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.

"It is a distinct honor to be asked by the President to serve his administration, especially given the high caliber of science appointments already made," McNutt said in a prepared statement. "Scientific information from the U.S. Geological Survey is crucial to solving the most important problems facing society--finding sufficient supplies of fresh water and clean energy, and providing accurate information that allows citizens to prepare intelligently for climate change. I look forward to leading such a respected institution at this critical time."

Gary Griggs, professor of Earth and planetary sciences and director of the Institute of Marine Sciences at UCSC, said McNutt is a superb choice as director of USGS. "She is an accomplished and respected geophysicist and has provided strong and innovative leadership to MBARI for a decade," Griggs said. "She is an excellent communicator and a natural leader. The nation and Earth sciences would be very well served with Marcia as the director of the Geological Survey."

McNutt studied geophysics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, where she earned a Ph.D. in Earth sciences. Her research includes studies of ocean island volcanism in French Polynesia, continental break-up in the Western United States, and uplift of the Tibet Plateau. She has participated in 15 major oceanographic expeditions, and served as chief scientist on more than half of those voyages.

McNutt served as president of the American Geophysical Union from 2000 to 2002. She also chaired the President's Panel on Ocean Exploration, convened by President Clinton to examine the possibility of initiating a major U.S. program in exploring the oceans. She was chair of the Board of Governors for Joint Oceanographic Institutions and is a trustee of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. She also chairs the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System.