CORVALLIS - Jane Lubchenco, a widely recognized researcher, educator and marine ecologist at Oregon State University, has been elected one of 60 new members of the National Academy of Sciences.
Election to membership in this professional organization is one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer, and is done "in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research," officials said.
Lubchenco, the Wayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology and distinguished professor of zoology at OSU, has been honored frequently in recent years for her accomplishments in research, student education, the promotion of better use of science in policy and management, and innovative leadership of some of the nation's leading science organizations.
She is currently serving as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is a past-president of the Ecological Society of America, has been named a MacArthur Fellow, Pew Scholar, received honorary doctoral degrees and served on numerous federal and international commissions and panels.
Lubchenco is a marine biologist whose research has focused on tropical and temperate ecology of marine intertidal communities, conservation biology, issues such as marine park planning for biodiversity preservation and the effect of global climate change on nearshore ecosystems.
After receiving her doctorate from Harvard University in 1975, and serving there as an assistant professor, Lubchenco joined the OSU faculty in 1977 as part of an unusual "split academic position" with her husband, Bruce Menge - an accommodation by the university that allowed the couple to more easily balance the demands of academic careers and rearing a family. Menge is now co-holder of an endowed chair with Lubchenco, as the Wayne and Gladys Valley Professors of Marine Biology.
Lubchenco's studies during the 1970s and 1980s included research from New England to China, the Bay of Panama and the Pacific Northwest, focusing on how fragile coastal ecosystems function and can suffer from human impacts such as pollution, overfishing, habitat destruction, and even scavenging tourists.
In the early 1990s she was a leading national spokesperson for the Sustainable Biosphere Initiative - an unprecedented attempt to set clear research priorities and persuade competing interest groups to work together -and for the Sustainable Biosphere Project.
That international effort sought to address some of the Earth's more pressing environmental problems, by bringing the most current scientific information and the best scientists together with citizens, policymakers and resource managers to jointly craft more sustainable resource policies and practices at the regional level.
In recent years Lubchenco has been increasingly sought as a member of various federal boards and committees, and last year helped organize an international symposium in Greece and Turkey in which many of the world's religious leaders shared ideas about how they could make greater commitments to environmental protection and education.
Lubchenco is a vocal advocate for basing environmental policies on sound scientific understanding. She has been active in promoting reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act, specifically in proposing incentives that encourage or reward positive environmental actions.
In her current position as president of the 143,000-member American Association for the Advancement of Science, Lubchenco has said she will promote scientific research to help solve global problems, and also make those research findings more accessible to the public and policy makers.
The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare, officials of the organization said.
The academy was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, that calls upon the academy to act as an official advisor to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.