President Barack Obama has nominated a prominent oceanographer to lead the U.S. Geological Survey. Marcia McNutt, a geophysicist and CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California, would be the first woman to head the 130-year-old agency.
A professor at MIT before coming to MBARI in 1997, the 57-year-old McNutt spent 3 years working on earthquake prediction at USGS's Menlo Park office after earning her Ph.D. in 1978. A past president of the American Geophysical Union, McNutt also chaired a presidential panel on ocean exploration during the Clinton Administration. Her advocacy efforts over the years have linked her with two other prominent scientists in the Obama Administration, presidential science adviser John Holdren and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, a former member of MBARI's board of trustees.
In an interview yesterday with the San Jose Mercury News, McNutt defended scientific openness and declared that "as long as the scientists stick to the facts of the science and don't try to dictate policy, they should be completely unfettered in being able to say what the science is."