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Marcia McNutt, First Woman to Lead National Academy of Sciences, to Speak Oct. 1 at SMU

September 12, 2018

DALLAS (SMU) – Leaving a trail of shattered glass ceilings behind her, the first woman to lead the National Academy of Sciences – the United States’ most prestigious scientific organization – will speak at SMU Monday, Oct 1.

Geophysicist Marcia McNutt will be interviewed by Krys Boyd, host of KERA’s mid-day program, “Think,” at 7 p.m in SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium, 6405 Boaz Lane. The event is free and open to the public. McNutt’s visit, sponsored by SMU Reads, complements the 2018 SMU Reads common reading selection, Lab Girl, by paleobiologist Hope Jahren.

McNutt will speak about her myriad experiences – serving as lead scientist on deep-sea diving explorations, leading the team of scientists charged with containing the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and, as the first woman editor of Science, becoming an outspoken voice in support of evidence-based decision-making.

McNutt’s career includes researching volcano hot spots beneath French Polynesia as a graduate student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and mentoring young scientists as a faculty member at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She was the first female president and CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California, and the first woman to lead the United States Geologic Survey (2009-2013), where she confronted what she called her “Omaha Beach,” leading the team that capped 60,000 gallons of oil leaking daily into the ocean after the explosion of Deepwater Horizon.

From 2013 to 2016, she put her stamp on Science Magazine as its first female editor, writing more than 60 editorials. In 2016, McNutt accepted the position as head of the National Academy of Sciences, the government’s premier science advisory organization, perhaps her most influential position yet. Established in 1863, the academy, a private, nonprofit society of scholars, provides independent advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology.

“It’s not the role of the academy to say what the policies should be, but it is the role of science to project the consequences,” McNutt says. “Advice from the academy could be transformational to help the nation—and the world—do the right thing.”


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