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Name: Lubchenco, Jane
Current Position: Former Under Secretary

Jane Lubchenco, one of the nation’s most prominent marine biologists, has devoted much of her career to encouraging scientists to become more engaged in public policy debates, and is a vocal proponent of curbing greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

Born on December 4, 1947, Lubchenco grew up in Denver with her five younger sisters. Her father was a surgeon and her mother a pediatrician. She attended a Catholic girls’ high school, St. Mary’s Academy, where, like so many Obama appointees, she played basketball. Lubchenco attended Colorado College, where she fell in love with the ocean during a summer course in invertebrate zoology at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. After earning her BA in biology in 1969, she received her MS in zoology from the University of Washington in 1971, and her PhD in ecology from Harvard University in 1975.
From 1975-1977, Lubchenco served as assistant professor at Harvard, sandwiched around a one-year visiting professorship in 1976 at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica. She then moved on to Oregon State University, beginning her more than 30-year career there. She worked as an assistant professor (1977-1982) and then associate professor (1982-88). Concurrently, she was a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution (1978-1984), spent time in 1986 at the Universidad Catolica in Santiago, Chile, and part of 1987 at the Institute of Oceanography, Academica Sinica, Qingdao, China.
In 1988, Lubchenco was made a full professor at Oregon State. She chaired the Department of Zoology from 1989 to 1992. In 1993, she was made a distinguished professor, and two years later, she was given the new title of Wayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology. Also in 1995, she began her teaching relationship at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand (1995-96, 1999-2000, 2002-2003).
Lubchenco’s expertise includes interactions between humans and the environment: biodiversity, climate change, sustainability science, ecosystem services, marine reserves, coastal marine ecosystems, the state of the oceans and of the planet. She has led an interdisciplinary team of scientists studying the marine ecosystem off the west coast of the United States.
She has served as president of the International Council for Science (the first woman to do so), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the Ecological Society of America. She was a presidential appointee to two terms on the National Science Board (1996-2006), which advises the President and Congress and oversees the National Science Foundation. She co-chaired an Oregon gubernatorial advisory group on global warming that recommended actions the state should take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Lubchenco founded the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program that teaches environmental scientists to be leaders and communicators of scientific information to the public, policy makers, the media and the private sector. She currently serves as chair of the program’s advisory board. She also participated in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), a five-year, international scientific assessment of the consequences of environmental changes to human well-being, and co-chaired the MA’s Synthesis for Business and Industry (PDF). She is also a Founding Principal of COMPASS (the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea), a collaboration among academic scientists, communication and media specialists that communicates academic marine conservation science to policy makers, the media, managers and the public.
Lubchenco served on the Pew Oceans Commission and now the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (a merger of the Pew Oceans Commission and the US Commission on Ocean Policy). She is a director, co-chair or trustee of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, SeaWeb and the Environmental Defense Fund; Trustee Emerita of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and a former trustee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics and the World Resources Institute.
Lubchenco is married to Bruce Menge, also a marine biologist, and the couple has two sons.
Jane Lubchenco (Mother Jones Profile)
Conversations with Outstanding Americans; Jane Lubchenco (by Brad Knickerbocker, Christian Science Monitor)
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