Skip to main content

<em>Science</em> Editor-in-Chief Nominated for Election as Academy President

The Council of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has approved the nomination of Marcia K. McNutt, editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals — published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) — for election as president of the Academy.

McNutt, who on 1 June 2013 became the first female editor-in-chief of Science, was nominated for election to succeed current NAS President Ralph J. Cicerone when his second term ends on 1 July 2016. If elected, McNutt would remain at the helm of Science until that time.


Marcia McNutt | AAAS

The AAAS Board of Directors will meanwhile launch a far-reaching recruitment effort to identify McNutt's successor, said Rush Holt, AAAS CEO and executive publisher of the Science journals.

"Following a long line of outstanding editors of Science, Marcia McNutt has continued to raise the standards of this great journal," Holt said. "She has been widely hailed for improvements to the journal's appearance and readability, variety of papers, and overall quality of editing, and for her tireless efforts to raise the standards of data reproducibility. We wish her well with the NAS election, and look forward to working with her through the coming year and beyond."

"I have been so fortunate to lead the Science journals during a time of great change for scientific publishing, and to work alongside many talented colleagues who are advancing science in service of society," McNutt said. "I am immensely honored to be asked by the Academy's Council to stand for election to the Presidency of the National Academy of Sciences, an organization that represents the highest standards of scientific honesty, quality, and integrity."

Kent Anderson, publisher of Science, said: "Marcia McNutt has been a pragmatic, visionary, and energetic leader for Science and its growing family of journals. While we wish we could have had many more years collaborating with her, we will work diligently to find a worthy successor who can build upon the success of our new journal, Science Advances, and other initiatives that Marcia has led."

McNutt is the 19th editor-in-chief of Science, and the first woman to serve in that role since the journal's inception in 1880. Before joining AAAS, she was appointed in 2009 as director of the U.S. Geological Survey. Earlier, she was president and chief executive officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and a professor of geophysics at Stanford University. She began her faculty career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (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 and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She served as president of the American Geophysical Union from 2000 until 2002, and she was chair of the Board of Governors for Joint Oceanographic Institutions.

A geophysicist, McNutt earned her bachelor's degree in physics at Colorado College and her doctoral degree in Earth sciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Her research concentration is in marine geophysics, using a broad variety of remote sensing techniques from oceanic ships and space to probe the dynamics of the mantle and overlying plates far from plate boundaries on geologic time scales. She identified a deep-seated, large-scale thermal anomaly in the central Pacific responsible for producing excessive amounts of midplate volcanoes of the Society, Marquesas, Austral, and other chains that has persisted for more than 100 million years.

During her tenure with Science, importantly, McNutt has helped to oversee the launch of the association's first digital-only, open-access journal, Science Advances. Spanning science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the social sciences, the new digital publication leverages Science's broad scope to help speed scientific progress by promoting the rapid communication of current research — a goal that McNutt has consistently promoted. She further has been at the forefront of a long-range, strategic Transformation Initiative at AAAS, which has focused on "digital-first" communications, member-focused activities, and advocacy for science.

At the same time, McNutt has been a champion for efforts to promote higher standards of reproducibility within the scientific community. For example, she took part in a June 2014 meeting, convened by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Nature, and Science, that proposed new guidelines for reporting preclinical research. Those guidelines, to be routed by journals to authors, outlined policies related to statistical accuracy. McNutt also proposed and implemented a Statistical Board of Reviewing Editors at Science, adding an additional layer of scrutiny to the journal's already-rigorous, multi-step peer-review system.

A Nominating Committee of 26 Academy members, chaired by Barbara A. Schaal, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences; and Mary-Dell Chilton, Distinguished Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, selected McNutt after a six-month search. Under the Academy's bylaws, the Nominating Committee puts forward for the Council's approval a single candidate for the presidency. Although the bylaws permit additional nominations from the membership, this mechanism has never been used. In the absence of another nomination, McNutt's name will be presented to the full membership for formal ratification on 15 December. That ballot, which will also contain the names of candidates for the Academy's treasurer and for four vacant positions on the Council, will be completed on 31 January.


ABOUT AAAS: The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journalScience ( as well as Science Translational Medicine (, Science Signaling (, and a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances ( AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes nearly 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world. The non-profit AAAS ( is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!,, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS. See

ABOUT NAS: Chartered by Congress in 1863, the National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, and it is dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and their use for the general welfare.  Members and foreign associates of the Academy are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research; election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a scientist or engineer.  The membership includes approximately 2,000 members and 350 foreign associates, of whom more than 190 have won Nobel Prizes. The National Academy of Sciences, together with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine, works to improve government decision making and public policy, increase public understanding, and promote the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge in matters involving science, engineering, and health.

(This release and additional information on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are available at