LOS ANGELES – Jane Lubchenco, the University Distinguished Professor of Marine Biology at Oregon State University, today was named as one of two recipients of the 2015 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, a prestigious award made for leadership in conservation and sustainability policies.
The award includes a gold medallion and $200,000 cash prize, which will be shared by Lubchenco and the other award recipient, Madhav Gadgil, a forestry and environmental leader at Goa University in India.
Since its inception in 1973 as one of the world’s first international environmental awards, the Tyler Prize has been the premier award for environmental science, environmental health and energy.
“Drs. Lubchenco and Gadgil represent the very best in bringing high-quality science to policymaking, to protect our environment and ensure the sustainability of natural resources in their respective countries and around the world,” said Owen T. Lind, chair of the Tyler Prize executive committee.
“Both of these laureates have bridged science with cultural and economic realities – like the impact on indigenous peoples in India or fishing communities in the United States – to advance the best possible conservation policies,” Lind said.
Lubchenco has served as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and was recently named the first-ever U.S. Science Envoy for the Oceans by the U.S. Department of State. She is also a past-president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has helped launch several programs to train scientists to engage more effectively with non-scientists.
“When I started my career, I was almost entirely focused on how ocean ecosystems work and the cool discovery part of science,” Lubchenco said. “Why do species live one place and not another? What are the dynamics between species, such as predators and their prey? But over time, I saw the ocean was changing, sometimes very dramatically, and nobody was paying attention.”
Many of those changes have now been linked to human causes, including overfishing, ocean acidification, invasive species and other disruptions. At NOAA, Lubchenco helped implement the “catch share” model that works with local communities and gives fishermen more of a stake in the future, and has helped restore healthy fisheries in several regions.
“Long term economic prosperity depends on a healthy ocean,” she said. “Policy changes that align conservation and economic incentives can have powerful outcomes.”
In her new role as a science envoy, Lubchenco will have a mandate to promote this focus on ocean science, marine ecology, climate change and smart policy to a global audience.
“This State Department position gives me a terrific platform to share what works in protecting and restoring the ocean and to promote more, and better, science to inform how we use fisheries and the other resources of the ocean,” Lubchenco said.
The Tyler Prize, established by John and Alice Tyler, is awarded annually, with administrative support from the University of Southern California. On April 23 at 2 p.m., Lubchenco and Gadgil will deliver public lectures on their work at The Forum at USC.