Jane Lubchenco has been named Deputy Director for Climate and the Environment in President Biden’s “science cabinet,” the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
Lubchenco, a marine scientist and former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is an alumna of the MBL’s Invertebrate Zoology course, where she had her first encounter with independent scientific research, a pivotal experience in her career.
Lubchenco’s appointment to the renamed OSTP post signals the priority the White House is giving to tackling the pressing impacts of climate change.
It will also continue Lubchenco’s long-term collaborations with MBL Distinguished Scientist Jerry Melillo.
OSTP oversees the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which coordinates climate research among 13 different agencies and produces a high-resolution assessment of climate change impacts in the United States every four years. Melillo was a leader of the National Climate Assessments released from 2000 to 2014 and currently heads a National Academy of Sciences advisory committee to the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP).
Melillo briefed Lubchenco this week on the NAS committee’s most recent report, which he chaired. It urges the USGCRP to accelerate research on the multidirectional relationships among human and natural systems, in order to support decision-makers at all levels in managing urgent climate risks. “I am pleased to have Jane back in D.C., ” Melillo said.
Lubchenco spent the summer after her junior year in college at MBL, an experience she later described as “transformative” to MBL Catalyst.
“‘It was just a life-changing experience for me,’ says Lubchenco of taking the MBL
Invertebrate Zoology course which, in its present form, is called Neural Systems and
Lubchenco grew up in the Colorado Rockies, and was no stranger to freshwater
exploration. But in 1968, when she came to the MBL, she says, ‘I discovered a whole new (marine) world that I didn’t really know existed. And I found it endlessly fascinating. All those exotic creatures, so many different ways of making a living, so many types of body plans. The opportunity to be with world-class faculty at the MBL, each of whom was a specialist in a different type of marine invertebrate . . . the stimulating Friday Evening Lectures, the amazing culture and ambiance of the MBL and Woods Hole. Everything about it was exciting and energizing.’”
Lubchenco returned to the MBL in 1991 to give a Friday Evening Lecture.
Photo above: Jane Lubchenco during field work in South Africa. Lubchenco is a University Distinguished Professor in marine biology at Oregon State University. Photo courtesy of Jane Lubchenco.