Marcia McNutt to head USGS

July 10, 2009 6:13:37 PM PDT
The Obama administration plans to nominate an internationally known Bay Area scientist to head up the federal research agency, the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Marcia McNutt has not talked with President Barack Obama herself, but he says he will nominate her to be the next director of the USGS.

"I think this is really a chance to make a big contribution," McNutt said.

McNutt has already made significant contributions in the scientific community. She has spent the last 12 years at helm of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

She says in recent years, science has been filtered at the USGS by politics.

"This was not a scientific review, not a review by their peers, it was a review by politicians," McNutt said.

Her colleagues have nothing but praise for McNutt and say she is the right person at a critical time in history.

"I think she will speak with clarity and honesty about the issues," MBARI senior scientist Charlie Paull said.

The USGS is perhaps best known for its study of earthquakes, but it monitors all geologic activity, and also estimates gas and oil reserves, has a major role in predicting water supplies and studies climate change. Mcnutt says on that issue, the U.S. has fallen behind.

"Many other countries are far ahead of us in installing wind farms, installing solar panels, moving to alternative energies and in preparing their populations for the decision making necessary to cope with climate change," McNutt said.

McNutt would be the first female director since the USGS was established in 1879.

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