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Marcia Kemper McNutt (1952-) is an Americanmarker geophysicist. She is director of the United States Geological Survey and science adviser to the United States Secretary of the Interior.

She was president and chief executive officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institutemarker, an oceanographic research center in the United States, professor of marine geophysics at the Stanford Universitymarker School of Earth Sciences and professor of marine geophysics at University of California, Santa Cruzmarker.

Family and education

She was valedictorian of her class at the Northrop Collegiate School (now The Blake School), graduating in 1970. She received a bachelor's degree in physics summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Colorado College in 1973. As a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, she then studied geophysics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography where she earned a PhD in earth sciences in 1978. Her dissertation was titled Continental and Oceanic Isostasy. McNutt is a NAUI-certified scuba diver and she trained in underwater demolition and explosives handling with the U.S. Navy UDT and Seal Team.

McNutt has three daughters, two of whom are identical twins.

Early years

After a brief appointment at the University of Minnesotamarker, McNutt worked for three years on earthquake prediction at the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Californiamarker. In 1982, she was appointed Griswold Professor of Geophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker (MIT) and she served as director of the Joint Program in Oceanography and Applied Ocean Science and Engineering, a cooperative effort of MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutionmarker.

Later years

McNutt was president and CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) from 1997 to 2009. During that time the Western Flyer, MBARI's research vessel, made expeditions from Canada to Baja California and the Hawaiian Islands. MBARI built the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS), the first deep-sea cabled observatory in the continental United States. She participated in 15 major oceanographic expeditions and served as chief scientist on more than half of them. She published 90 peer-reviewed scientific articles. Her research has included studies of ocean island volcanism in French Polynesiamarker, continental break-up in the Western United States, and uplift of the Tibet plateau.

US Geological Survey

In July 2009, McNutt was announced as President Obama's nominee to be the next director of the United States Geological Survey and science adviser to the United States Secretary of the Interior. The Senate unanimously approved her nomination on October 21. She is the first woman director of USGS since its establishment in 1879. Secretary Ken Salazar endorsed McNutt for the position. In a television interview following Obama's announcement, McNutt said:

"Many other countries are far ahead of the U.S., in installing wind farms, installing solar panels, moving to alternate energies, and in preparing their popluations for the decision-making necessary to cope with climate change."

Awards and honors

She is a fellow for the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the International Association of Geodesy. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Societymarker and the American Academy of Arts and Sciencesmarker. She chaired the President’s Panel on Ocean Exploration under President Bill Clinton. She serves on evaluation and advisory boards for institutions including the Monterey Bay Aquariummarker, Stanford Universitymarker, Harvard Universitymarker and Science magazine. In 1988, McNutt won the Macelwane Award from the American Geophysical Union, presented for outstanding research by a young scientist, and in 2007 she won the AGU's Maurice Ewing Medal for her contributions to deep-sea exploration.

She is a past president of the American Geophysical Union (2000–2002). In 2002, Discover magazine named McNutt one of the top fifty women in science. In 2003 she was named Scientist of the Year by the ARCS Foundation. She holds honorary doctorates from the University of Minnesota and Colorado College and was recognized as Outstanding Alumni in 2004 by the University of California, San Diegomarker. McNutt chaired the board of governors of the Joint Oceanographic Institutions which merged to become Consortium for Ocean Leadership for which she was trustee.


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