Secretary Salazar Applauds Senate's Confirmation of Dr. Marcia McNutt as Director of the U.S. Geological Survey

Last edited 09/29/2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today praised the Senate's confirmation of Dr. Marcia McNutt as Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Science Advisor to the Secretary. The President nominated her for the positions in July.

“Dr. McNutt is a world-class scientist whose professional expertise and leadership qualities will be invaluable in guiding the Department's premier scientific agency,” Salazar said. “Since she is a former USGS scientist who began her career as an earthquake specialist, this represents a homecoming for Dr. McNutt. Her appointment also marks a USGS milestone -- she is the first confirmed woman director of the agency in its 130 year history.”

Dr. McNutt most recently served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California (MBARI), a nonprofit organization whose work focuses on developing technology to address key research questions in the ocean sciences. She has held that position since 1997.

During her tenure at MBARI, Dr. McNutt oversaw the institute's staff of more than 200 employees as well as the institute's budget. During that time, the institute's flagship research vessel, Western Flyer, carried out ground-breaking research expeditions from Canada to Baja California, and as far afield as the Hawaiian islands. Under her leadership, MBARI also constructed the first deep-sea cabled observatory in the continental United States—the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS).

Before joining MBARI, Dr. McNutt was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), joining the faculty there in 1982, becoming the Griswold Professor of Geophysics and serving as Director of the Joint Program in Oceanography & Applied Ocean Science & Engineering, offered by MIT & the Woods Hole Oceanography Institution.

Dr. McNutt has participated in 15 major oceanographic expeditions and served as chief scientist on more than half of those voyages. She has published 90 peer-reviewed scientific articles. Her research has ranged from studies of ocean island volcanism in French Polynesia to continental break-up in the Western United States to uplift of the Tibet Plateau.

Dr. McNutt studied geophysics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California and earned her PhD there in Earth Sciences in 1978. She then spent three years with the USGS in Menlo Park, Calif., working on earthquake prediction.

Among her many professional accomplishments, Dr. McNutt served as President of the American Geophysical Union from 2000-2002. She was Chair of the Board of Governors for Joint Oceanographic Institutions, helping to bring about its merger with the Consortium for Ocean Research and Education to become the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, for which she served as Trustee. She is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the International Association of Geodesy.

Dr. McNutt's honors and awards include membership in the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She serves on numerous evaluation and advisory boards for institutions such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Stanford University, Harvard University and Science Magazine

The USGS is an unbiased, multi-disciplinary organization that focuses on biology, geography, geology, geospatial information, and water. USGS is dedicated to the timely, relevant, and impartial study of the landscape, natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten Americans. The President's 2010 budget request for the USGS is $1.1 billion and the agency has about 8670 employees.

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