As if having Barack Obama win the US election wasn’t enough good news, we just learned that he has named Dr. Jane Lubchenco as the new head of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration! This is really incredibly good news.
The fact that the new president, and as they say “world’s most powerful person”, even knows a marine ecologist is rather amazing.
Jane has been an international leader in marine conservation for several decades. She is probably the most visible advocate of Marine Protected Areas. Her initial fame came from her elegant test of the intermediate disturbance hypothesis as a PhD student. She manipulated the density of herbivorous snails in tide pools in Nahant Massachusetts and found that intermediate levels of grazing pressure maximized macroalgal diversity. She has been president of the Ecological Society of America, The American Association for the Advancement of Science and is a member of member of the US National Academy of Science. In addition to being a fantastic and very active scientist and conservationist, she also has a fair amount of management experience. She developed and heads several large programs including COMPASS, the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program and PISCO.
After having breakfast with Jane and her family in Sydney a few weeks ago, I told my wife I could envision her as President (as in of the USA). She is highly articulate and generally very impressive (and a little intimidating). Jane will also be the first woman to head NOAA and one of the few biologists anywhere near the top of that organizaion, that is usually run by stodgy old white guys with degrees in math, chemistry or physics.
This is just great news.