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UC San Diego Names Margaret Leinen as Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences

Vice Chancellor will lead UC San Diego’s Marine Sciences and direct Scripps Institution of Oceanography


  • Cindy Clark

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  • Cindy Clark

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UC San Diego announced today the appointment of Margaret Leinen, Ph.D., as Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Dean of the School of Marine Sciences. Dr. Leinen is a highly distinguished, award-winning oceanographer and an accomplished executive with extensive national and international experience in ocean science, global climate and environmental issues, federal research administration, and non-profit startups.

Margaret Leinen

With annual expenditures approaching $200 million and a fleet of four research vessels and research platform FLIP, Scripps encompasses physical, chemical, biological, geological, and geophysical studies of the oceans, earth, and atmosphere. Scripps offers graduate and undergraduate educational programs in marine biology, oceanography, and earth sciences.

Dr. Leinen will join UC San Diego in October 2013.

“Dr. Leinen’s experience leading innovation and creating collaborative programs make her the right choice for Scripps and a key campus partner in implementing UC San Diego’s strategic plan,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Our strategic planning process has sharpened our mission to be a student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented public university. Scripps is one of UC San Diego’s pillars of excellence whose fundamentals are extremely strong.”

To balance support for basic research with support for applied science and education programs, Scripps continues to cultivate excellence in basic science, pioneer applications to real-world problems, initiate and maintain fundamental earth, ocean, polar, and atmospheric observations, and remain at the forefront of modeling and interpretation. Increasingly, understanding and solving the questions of basic and applied science require integration with social sciences and other fields. Educating the public, expanding ties to the broader community, and enhancing diversity within its ranks are core principles at Scripps.

“I am honored to be chosen as Scripps Director and UC San Diego Vice Chancellor,” said Dr. Leinen. “I am excited by the combination of Scripps’s 110 years of research and educational excellence and UC San Diego’s culture of interdisciplinary innovation.”

Dr. Leinen joins UC San Diego continuing an impressive academic and administrative career. She served for seven years at the National Science Foundation (NSF) as Assistant Director for Geosciences and Coordinator of Environmental Research and Education. She oversaw a budget of $700 million, led government-wide planning for climate research, and co-led government planning for ocean research.

While at NSF, she presided over and directly influenced some of the most consequential programs in marine, atmospheric, and earth science. She is currently Executive Director of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and Associate Provost of Marine and Environmental Initiatives at Florida Atlantic University, and earlier served as an academic leader at the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Leinen is president-elect of the American Geophysical Union, chair of the Federal Ocean Research Advisory Panel, and vice chair of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.

Dr. Leinen’s appointment follows an extensive national search for a leader with a distinguished record of research, teaching, and service. She was chosen from a highly competitive pool of ocean and environmental science leaders.

Leinen replaces Tony Haymet, who served as UC San Diego Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences from 2006 until his retirement from the administrative post at the end of 2012. He is Vice Chancellor–Marine Sciences, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Dean of the Graduate Program in Marine Sciences, Emeritus, and remains a Distinguished Professor at UC San Diego. Prof. Catherine Constable of Scripps’s Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics is serving as the Interim Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Dean of the Graduate School of Marine Sciences at UC San Diego. She will continue in this position until Dr. Leinen joins UC San Diego.

Additional biographical material on Dr. Margaret Leinen is included at the end of this news release.

External Comments on the Selection of Dr. Margaret Leinen:

"As a Scripps alumna and someone who cares deeply about the strength of the oceanographic community, I am thrilled that Dr. Margaret Leinen, a proven leader and ocean champion, will be the next Scripps director," said Marcia McNutt, editor-in-chief of Science. “She has all of the experience and credentials to work well with the Scripps students, faculty, and researchers, UCSD staff, greater San Diego community, and fellow oceanographic leaders to take Scripps to the next level of excellence in ocean research and education.”

“Scripps Institution of Oceanography is one of the crown jewels of the UC system, and I’m pleased that UC San Diego chose a real professional to serve as director,” said U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA). “Dr. Margaret Leinen brings a wealth of experience from her time at the National Science Foundation, Florida Atlantic University, and as founder and president of the Climate Response Fund. I look forward to the continued success of Scripps Institution at addressing the critical challenges facing California and the nation.”

“I look forward to working with Margaret to ensure that Scripps Oceanography remains a preeminent research facility well into the future,” U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) said. “I hope we can be partners in addressing the next stage of Scripps’ life, including necessary infrastructure improvements at their [Nimitz Marine Facility in Point Loma] research pier.”

"I'm looking forward to continuing our innovative research with Dr. Margaret Leinen," said Rear Admiral Matthew L. Klunder, Chief of Naval Research at the Office of Naval Research (ONR). "ONR and Scripps have partnered to advance knowledge of ocean sciences for better than 60 years. I've been particularly pleased during my tenure at ONR to see the continuing excellence of basic and applied research coming from this institution. I'm sure that Dr. Leinen will continue that strong tradition of excellence in leading the way to bring new and advanced capabilities to bear for the Department of the Navy's war fighters."

“NOAA and Scripps Institution of Oceanography have a long history of partnership and collaboration on research and iconic ocean and atmospheric observing programs like the Keeling Curve and the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations program,” said Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D., Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. “Congratulations to Scripps and UC San Diego on Dr. Leinen’s appointment. Dr. Leinen brings a wealth of science expertise, policy acumen, and management skills. I look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Leinen in her new position.”

"Congratulations to Scripps and Dr. Leinen,” said U.S. Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53). “The nearly 110-year history of earth, ocean, and environmental research discoveries by Scripps shows how San Diego is a hub of innovation. I look forward to Scripps continuing its tremendous legacy of educating the next generation of ocean and environmental explorers—either in its many undergraduate classes at UC San Diego, its world-class Ph.D. programs, or at Birch Aquarium at Scripps.”

“The strong leadership of UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography will continue with the appointment of Dr. Leinen,” said U.S. Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA-50). “The research performed at Scripps has benefited our nation for decades, specifically in certain areas of national and maritime security. Next week, the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, which I chair, will hold a hearing on maritime domain awareness, and I am grateful that an expert from Scripps has agreed to appear before the committee. Our Coast Guard, like our Navy, relies heavily on some of the basic research conducted by Scripps, and our national and public safety is stronger because of it. I welcome Dr. Leinen to San Diego, and look forward to working closely with her.”

“Scripps has at once an accomplished scientist and dynamic manager in Margaret Leinen,” said Tom Torlakson, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “Chancellor Khosla could not have found a better partner to implement his strategic plan for the UC San Diego center of excellence that is Scripps Institution of Oceanography.”

“While at the National Science Foundation, Dr. Leinen spearheaded a new interdisciplinary program in environmental research and education,” said State Senator Marty Block (SD-39). “No doubt she will bring the same enthusiasm and vision to Scripps, and I look forward to collaborating with her to further Scripps’s invaluable graduate, undergraduate, and K-12 education programs to California’s benefit.”

“Dr. Leinen’s work in the private sector, government, and academia will help Scripps with the critical work of growing San Diego’s blue economy,” said Greg Cox, chairman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “Scripps is a research powerhouse and I’m excited about the potential economic benefits of better understanding our oceanographic systems."

“The seed from which UC San Diego grew, Scripps and its science play a special role in San Diego, California, and the world,” said San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Sherri Lightner. “The environmental issues we face require vision and leadership. I congratulate Dr. Leinen on this appointment and look forward to working with her to support Scripps students, employees, and scientists.”

Dr. Margaret Leinen Biography:

Dr. Margaret Leinen is the Vice Provost for Marine and Environmental Initiatives and Executive Director of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, a unit of Florida Atlantic University. She is a researcher in paleo-oceanography and paleo-climatology. Her work focuses on ocean sediments and their relationship to global biogeochemical cycles and the history of Earth’s ocean and climate.

She was the founder and president of the Climate Response Fund, a non-profit organization that works to foster discussion of climate engineering research and to decrease the risk that these techniques might be called on or deployed before they are adequately understood and regulated. Previously, she spent two years as the chief science officer of Climos, Inc., a startup company focused on green technology for climate mitigation.

Dr. Leinen has also served in other academic leadership positions. At the University of Rhode Island, she was Vice Provost for Marine and Environmental Programs and Dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography.

She received her doctorate in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island, her master's degree in geological oceanography from Oregon State University, and her bachelor's degree in geology from the University of Illinois.

She is President-Elect of the American Geophysical Union, past chair of the Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and past president of The Oceanography Society. She serves on the board of the National Council for Science and the Environment and previously served on the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). She also served as vice chair of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and on the board on Global Change of the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences. She is vice chair of the Research Board of the $500 million Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.

She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, and has been awarded Distinguished Alumni Awards from all three universities she attended as a student, University of Illinois, Oregon State University, and University of Rhode Island.

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