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Jane Lubchenco, Distinguished University Professor and Adviser in Marine Studies in the department of integrative biology at Oregon State University, received the 2017 NAS Public Welfare Medal.

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 recently completed a term as the first U.S. Science Envoy for the Ocean for the U.S. Department of State.

The NAS Public Welfare Medal is the Academy's most prestigious award and is presented annually to honor extraordinary use of science for the public good. Over the past 100 years the NAS Public Welfare Medal has continued to recognize those individuals who have worked tirelessly to promote science for the benefit of humanity.


Watch Lubchenco's Acceptance Speech »

2017 NAS Public Welfare Medal Press Release »

NAS Public Welfare Medal »

2017 NAS Award Recipients »

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