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Dr. Marcia McNutt

Dr. Marcia McNutt

First Female President of the National Academy of Sciences

Dr. Marcia McNutt, a geophysicist whose career has navigated diverse terrains, both literal and metaphorical, stands as a prominent figure in science leadership and advocacy. From delving into the mysteries of oil spills, fossil fuels and climate engineering to leading the National Academy of Sciences, McNutt's journey exemplifies dedication to scientific exploration and pushing boundaries.


Born in 1952, began her journey towards academic excellence early on, culminating in her valedictorian status at Northrop Collegiate School (now The Blake School) in Minneapolis, graduating in 1970. She continued her academic pursuits with remarkable success, earning a bachelor's degree in physics with summa cum laude honors and Phi Beta Kappa distinction from Colorado College in 1973. McNutt then pursued her passion for geophysics as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where she obtained her Ph.D. in earth sciences in 1978, focusing her research on Continental and Oceanic Isostasy for her dissertation. 


In July 2009, McNutt's career trajectory took a significant turn when she was appointed by President Obama to serve as the director of the United States Geological Survey and science adviser to the United States Secretary of the Interior, a position she held until 2013. Subsequently, she assumed the role of editor-in-chief of the esteemed peer-reviewed journal Science from 2013 to 2016 while also maintaining a visiting appointment at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. McNutt's expertise and leadership were further recognized when she chaired the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Geoengineering Climate, which published its findings on climate geoengineering in February 2015. In July 2015, McNutt's exceptional contributions to the scientific community led to her nomination as the president of the National Academy of Sciences, a position she was elected to, serving a distinguished six-year term from July 1, 2016, until June 30, 2022.


Dr. Marcia McNutt's illustrious achievements are illuminated as we celebrate her groundbreaking contributions across various fronts. From pioneering research in exploring volcanic hot spots, which has significantly advanced our understanding of oceanography and geophysics, to demonstrating remarkable resilience and effective crisis management during her tenure at the US Geological Survey, notably during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill crisis. McNutt's dedication to science communication and accessibility shines through her role as editor-in-chief of Science journals, where she has made science relatable and engaging for the broader public. Moreover, her trailblazing journey includes breaking barriers as the first woman president of the National Academy of Sciences, where she continues to advocate passionately for inclusivity within the scientific community, inspiring generations to come.


Dr. Marcia McNutt's inspiring career serves as a reminder that scientific exploration can benefit not only from diverse perspectives but also from passionate leadership that translates discoveries into tangible solutions for the world. Her groundbreaking work and unwavering commitment to science communication continue to pave the way for future generations of scientists and leaders.

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