News Release

Jane Lubchenco to receive Public Welfare Medal -- Academy's most prestigious award

Grant and Award Announcement

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

WASHINGTON -- The National Academy of Sciences is presenting its 2017 Public Welfare Medal to renowned environmental scientist and marine ecologist Jane Lubchenco in recognition of her "successful efforts in bringing together the larger research community, its sponsors, and the public policy community to focus on urgent issues related to global environmental change." The medal is the Academy's most prestigious award, established in 1914 and presented annually to honor extraordinary use of science for the public good.

One of the most highly cited ecologists in the world, Lubchenco is University Distinguished Professor and Adviser in Marine Studies in the department of integrative biology at Oregon State University and recently completed a term as the first U.S. Science Envoy for the Ocean for the U.S. Department of State.

"Jane Lubchenco is not only an eminent scientist in her own right but also a passionate advocate for science who has dedicated her career to public service," said Susan Wessler, home secretary of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the selection committee for the award. "In doing so, she has inspired and encouraged countless other researchers to follow in her footsteps."

"Jane Lubchenco is my hero," said National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt. "She does it all. She begins by providing the fundamental science that is the beacon for a better way to manage our ocean resources for the benefit of present and future generations. Then she steps forward to put knowledge into action through leadership both nationally and internationally. We couldn't be more pleased to present her with our highest award."

Lubchenco's expertise on oceans, biodiversity, climate change, and interactions between the environment and human well-being has underpinned her impressive career as a scientist, educator, and public servant. As the first woman administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 2009 to 2013, Lubchenco focused agency efforts on restoring oceans to a healthy state, maintaining sustainable and profitable fisheries, strengthening science and scientific integrity, ensuring continuity of weather and other environmental satellites, and delivering climate science information and services to inform understanding and preparedness. She led NOAA's response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and was instrumental in calling attention to "dead zones" in the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.

Prior to joining NOAA, Lubchenco was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the International Council for Science (ICSU), and the Ecological Society of America, and was a board member for 10 years on the National Science Board. In 1998, she published the Science paper "Entering the century of the environment: A new social contract for science," which has been cited more than 1,200 times and has inspired a generation of researchers to work for the public good. She was also instrumental in producing the 1988 report "The Sustainable Biosphere Initiative," a research agenda focused on "advancing our base of knowledge and for improving the human condition" that influenced research priorities for decades.

Lubchenco also co-founded three successful nongovernmental organizations to enhance communication of scientific knowledge to policymakers and the public: The Leopold Leadership Program, the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea, and Climate Central. In addition, Lubchenco also helped found the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, a research consortium that studies the near-shore ocean along the coasts of Oregon and California.

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. Lubchenco is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, Royal Society, World Academy of Sciences, and Chilean Academy of Sciences. She has received numerous awards including a MacArthur "genius" award, 20 honorary doctorates, the World Academy of Sciences Medal, and the U.S. Coast Guard Public Service Award, the highest honor the Coast Guard gives to a civilian. Lubchenco has also served or serves on numerous National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committees and several commissions, including the Pew Oceans Commission and the World Bank's Global Partnership for Oceans and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network that advises the secretary general of the United Nations.

The Public Welfare Medal will be presented to Jane Lubchenco on April 30 during the Academy's 154th annual meeting. More information, including a list of past recipients, is available at

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and -- with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine - provides science, technology, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.



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