OSU professor appointed head of national climate science agency


CORVALLIS, Ore. – A professor at Oregon State University has been appointed by President Joe Biden to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a national agency specializing in weather and climate science.

“I am deeply honored by this appointment,” said Rick Spinrad. “Throughout my years as a graduate student at OSU, I have always held NOAA in such high regard for the quality and importance of its work. The opportunity to serve as a director of NOAA is both humbling and exciting. “

Before receiving the role, Spinrad must be confirmed by the US Senate. If confirmed, Spinrad would become the third person in OSU to lead NOAA, after former OSU President John Byrne who led NOAA from 1981 to 1984 and distinguished OSU professor Jane Lubchenco. who led NOAA from 2009 to 2012.

“He is a leader of thought and determination not only in Oregon, but in America, in terms of addressing the causes of climate change and preserving and promoting the well-being of the world’s oceans,” said OSU spokesman Steve Clark said.

Spinrad graduated from OSU with his masters and doctorate in oceanography, according to the university. He then served as OSU’s vice president of research for four years before stepping down in 2014 to serve as NOAA’s chief scientist, according to the university. Spinrad held this position from 2014 to 2016. He then returned to OSU where he is currently Professor of Oceanography and Senior Advisor to the Vice President, Research.

“Rick Spinrad will be an exceptional director of NOAA,” said Edward Feser, Interim President and Provost and Executive Vice President of OSU. “He is one of an impressive group of professors at Oregon State University who have held senior federal positions – recognition of the university’s academic distinction and commitment to land granting.” His appointment and the past NOAA leadership by John Byrne and Jane Lubchenco are proof of Oregon State University’s global leadership in the study of climate, climate change, the world’s oceans, and marine and coastal resources.

Its current work focuses on funding the PacWave project, a wave energy test site, the university said.

The post has been vacant since 2017 when two of former President Donald Trump’s candidates did not receive enough support from the Senate.

“All Oregonians can be proud of someone in this state and in the past, Jane Lubchenco, OSU Professor Emeritus and former OSU President John Byrne, in helping to lead the progress and preservation of the nation, research and science related to our oceans and coasts, ”said Clark.


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