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Jane Lubchenco sitting in seaweed and urchins

Marine ecologist receives prestigious National Science Board award

By Steve Lundeberg

Marine ecologist Jane Lubchenco, recipient of the 2018 Vannevar Bush Award

The National Science Board is honoring distinguished marine ecologist and Professor of Integrative Biology Jane Lubchenco with its 2018 Vannevar Bush Award.

The award recognizes “exceptional lifelong leaders in science and technology who have made substantial contributions to the welfare of the nation through public service in science, technology and public policy.”

Past winners include OSU alumnus Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel laureate, and David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard.

Lubchenco, distinguished university professor at Oregon State and marine studies adviser to OSU President Ed Ray, is one of the world’s most highly cited ecologists. She served as an undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Jane Lubchenco’s contributions to science and public service signifies a lifetime of extraordinary work in her efforts to preserve the health of our marine and coastal resources in harmony with the people who depend on them for survival,” said Vicki Chandler, chair of the NSB’s Committee on Honorary Awards. “Jane’s dedication to improve public welfare and leadership in affecting positive change benefit all of humankind. The National Science Board is proud to recognize her momentous body of work with this award.”

Lubchenco also served on the Obama administration’s Science Team and later as the State Department’s first science envoy for the ocean. In January 2017, she received the National Academy of Sciences’ most prestigious award, the Public Welfare Medal.

Lubchenco has co-founded three organizations that train scientists to better communicate with citizens and to more effectively engage with society: COMPASS, the Leopold Leadership Program, and Climate Central.

A MacArthur Fellow and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Lubchenco is the sixth woman to win the Vannevar Bush Award in the last 15 years. The first 18 winners of the award, and 24 of the first 25, were men.

“Jane Lubchenco is the quintessential champion of science and has made extraordinary research contributions to marine ecology and environmental science that are unparalleled, as is her service to Oregon State University and our students, our nation and of course our oceans,” said Roy Haggerty, dean of OSU’s College of Science.

“She has strengthened the voice of science nationally and globally," he added.

The National Science Board will present Lubchenco with the award May 2 in Washington, D.C., during the National Science Foundation’s annual awards ceremony.

“I’m positively thrilled to receive the Vannevar Bush Award,” said Lubchenco. “It is humbling to be in the distinguished company of previous recipients, and also to have the chance to shine a spotlight on the increasingly important role that science plays in our lives. To me, science is all about hope – hope that we can work together to find solutions to our grand challenges.”

The NSB and the National Science Foundation director jointly head the NSF, an independent federal agency created by Congress to promote the progress of science and also to advance health, prosperity and welfare and to secure the national defense.

The National Science Board sets policy for the National Science Foundation and provides a biennial report to Congress on U.S. progress in science and technology. Members are presidential appointees selected for six-year terms based on their excellence in research and education.

Established in 1980, the Vannevar Bush Award is named after President Roosevelt’s science adviser during World War II. After the war, Bush was instrumental in the creation of the National Science Foundation; he died in 1974 at age 84.

About NSB

The National Science Board and the National Science Foundation's Director jointly head NSF. NSB identifies issues critical to NSF's future and establishes the Foundation's policies. The NSB also provides the President and Congress with Science and Engineering Indicators, a biennial report on U.S. progress in science and technology. Members are appointed by the President for six-year terms and selected for their eminence in research, education and records of distinguished service.

Read the press release by the National Science Foundation here.
Read the OSU press release here.