OSU Professor Wins Prestigious Award, Encourages Scientists To Engage

Feb 1, 2017
Originally published on February 1, 2017 6:10 pm

The National Academy of Sciences has chosen Oregon State University marine studies professor Jane Lubchenco for its highest award.

The Public Welfare Medal honors those who promote science for the benefit of humanity.

The academy said it chose Lubchenco for her "successful efforts in bringing together the larger research community, its sponsors and the public policy community to focus on urgent issues related to global environmental change."

Lubchenco was the administrator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 2009 to 2013.

When she returned to OSU from that role, she told OPB’s "Think Out Loud" about the challenges of working with Congress. She related a story about trying to secure funding for new weather satellites.

“This one member of Congress said to me. 'Doctor, I don’t need your weather satellites, I have the Weather Channel.'”

She said she used the opportunity to tell the congressman that the Weather Channel gets its information from NOAA’s weather satellites.

“Part of my job was to take a few steps back and give him more information so that he could have a more complete understanding of how important these weather satellites are.”

On Wednesday, Lubchenco published an article in "Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment," arguing that scientists need to increasingly engage with the public.

“A post-truth world, a U.S. cabinet full of climate deniers, suppression of science and scientists all threaten, seriously threaten, our democracy," Lubchenco wrote. "Resistance is appropriate, but now, more than ever, scientists also need to engage meaningfully with society to address intertwined environmental and societal problems.”

Lubchenco will receive the Public Welfare Medal in Washington D.C. at the end of April.

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