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Marcia McNutt Named New Editor-in-Chief of Science

Marcia McNutt, former director of the U.S. Geological Survey, has been named by the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to serve as editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals beginning 1 June 2013.

McNutt, who will be the first woman to serve in this position since the journal’s inception in 1880, will become the 19th editor-in-chief of Science.


Marcia McNutt | Courtesy of Marcia McNutt

“Thirty-five years ago, when I was a graduate student and my very first research paper was published in Science, I do not think I could ever have dreamed that one day I would have the honor of becoming Editor-in-Chief of this most distinguished journal,” McNutt said.”I am both excited by new opportunities to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery by improving interdisciplinary scientific communication, and humbled by the reputations and accomplishments of the Editors-in Chief who have served before me. I very much look forward to working with the talented editors and all of the terrific staff at AAAS to further the mission and vision of the Science family of journals.”


William Press, chairman of the AAAS Board of Directors and Warren J. and Viola M. Raymer Professor in Computer Science and Integrative Biology at the University of Texas, Austin, noted that McNutt already has a firm understanding of the journal. “She is starting from a position of particular strength, since she previously served on the Senior Editorial Board,” he said. “Dr. McNutt will bring her unique expertise and broad interest in science to the journal at a time when science publishing is at a crossroads.”

McNutt will succeed Bruce Alberts, president emeritus of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and chair of the National Research Council (1993-2005). Alberts became Editor-in-Chief in 2008 and last year announced his plan to step down at the end of his five-year-term.

Appointed as the director of the USGS in 2009, McNutt joined a group of accomplished scientists selected for top government posts by President Obama. During her tenure, the USGS responded to a number of major disasters, including earthquakes in Haiti and Chile and the Deep Horizon oil spill.

Prior to joining the USGS, McNutt served as president and chief executive officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), in Moss Landing, CA. She began her faculty career at MIT where she became the Griswold Professor of Geophysics and served as Director of the Joint Program in Oceanography & Applied Ocean Science & Engineering, offered by MIT & the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

McNutt served as President of the American Geophysical Union from 2000-2002. She was Chair of the Board of Governors for Joint Oceanographic Institutions, helping to bring about its merger with the Consortium for Ocean Research and Education to become the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, for which she served as Trustee. She is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the International Association of Geodesy.

McNutt’s honors and awards include membership in the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She also holds honorary doctoral degrees from Colorado College, University of Minnesota, Monmouth University and Colorado School of Mines. She was awarded the Macelwane Medal by the American Geophysical Union in 1988 for research accomplishments by a young scientist and the Maurice Ewing Medal in 2007 for her significant contributions to deep-sea exploration.

She has served on numerous evaluation and advisory boards for institutions such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Stanford University, Harvard University, Science Magazine and Schlumberger.

Founded in 1880 by journalist John Michels and with seed money from Thomas A. Edison, Science has been the official journal of the non-profit AAAS since 1900. In its early days, the journal was best known for physical sciences research, from wireless telegraphy to new chemical elements and early reports of the Wright brothers’ flying experiments. Since then, the journal has published many important biological breakthroughs, too, such as the discovery that brought Mendel’s laws of heredity to light, and the historic sequencing of the human genome.

Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed, general science journal in the world. Each week, an estimated 1 million people worldwide read the journal at home, and in libraries, schools and research institutions.

McNutt will oversee both the journal’s staff of Ph.D.-level editors, directed by Executive Editor Monica Bradford, and Science’s award-winning team of science journalists, headed by News Editor Tim Appenzeller who will be joining the journal in summer 2013. Science’s editors and news reporters work in Washington, D.C., Cambridge, U.K., and other locations worldwide, from China and Japan to Europe and Africa.

Science has so far had 18 editors-in-chief, including Alberts (1 March 2008-1 July 2013]), Donald Kennedy (1 June 2000-1 March 2008); Floyd E. Bloom (1995-2000); Daniel E. Koshland Jr. (1985-1995); and the late Philip Hauge Abelson (1962-1984).

“As his tenure at AAAS and Science winds down, I would like to express great appreciation and gratitude to Bruce Alberts for his many contributions both to our publications and the rest of AAAS,” Press said. “Among many other important impacts, Bruce’s great commitment to science education and to global science will have particularly important and long-lasting effects.”

Kathy Wren

2 April 2013