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Name: McNutt, Marcia
Current Position: Former Director

Marcia K. McNutt, President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), was confirmed by the U.S. Senate October 21, 2009. McNutt is a geological scientist whose oceanography work includes training with Navy SEALS in underwater explosives, going on fifteen ocean study voyages, researching volcanoes and studying the forces behind the uplift of the Himalayan mountains.

Born on February 1, 1952, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, McNutt was six years old when she decided she wanted to become an oceanographer after a visit to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She was valedictorian of her class at the Northrop Collegiate School (now The Blake School) when she graduated in 1970. After receiving a perfect score on her SAT’s, she attended Colorado College, earning her bachelor’s degree in physics, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, in just three years.
A fellowship from the National Science Foundation allowed McNutt to study geophysics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where she earned a PhD in earth sciences in 1978.
From 1978-1979, she worked as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Minnesota. This was followed by three years as a geophysicist helping the USGS predict earthquakes from its office in Menlo Park, California.
In 1982, she began a 15-year stint at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she became Griswold Professor of Geophysics and served as director of the Joint Program in Oceanography and Applied Ocean Science and Engineering, a cooperative effort between MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
In 1997, McNutt left MIT to take over leadership of  the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, managing more than 200 scientists, engineers, and marine technical and administrative staff, as well as a $30 million annual budget. While serving as president and CEO of the Monterey research institute until her appointment by President Obama, she also worked as a professor in the Department of Earth Science at the University of California-Santa Cruz and as a professor of geophysics at Stanford University.
She chaired the President’s Panel on Ocean Exploration under President Bill Clinton, and has served on evaluation and advisory boards for institutions including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Stanford University, Harvard University and Science magazine.
After the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20, 2010, President Obama chose McNutt to chair the Flow Rate Technical Group, the panel of scientists charged with estimating the flow of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.
McNutt’s first husband died in 1988 and she hired a single mother with a daughter of her own to live in her house and care for her three daughters (two of them identical twins). In 1996 McNutt married Ian Young, a ship’s captain for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Their wedding took place in Tahiti and was a traditional Tahitian ceremony that included war canoes and fire walkers.
A scuba diver, McNutt once took a Navy Seals demolitions course to learn how to use underwater explosives that are used in ocean floor mapping. She also began driving a motorcycle when she was in graduate school.
Marcia McNutt Biography (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)
Q&A: Marcia McNutt (Inkling Magazine)\

Marcia McNutt Interview (National Academy of Sciences)    

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