Kathryn D. Sullivan appointed as assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction for NOAA

May 4, 2011


Dr. Kathy Sullivan has been appointed as assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

(Credit: Courtesy Dr. K. Sullivan)

Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D., was confirmed by unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate and appointed by President Obama to serve as assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction and deputy administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Dr. Sullivan, who previously served as NOAA’s chief scientist, is a distinguished scientist, renowned astronaut and intrepid explorer. As assistant secretary, she will play a central role in directing Administration and NOAA priority work in the areas of weather and water services, climate science and services, integrated mapping services and Earth-observing capabilities.

“Dr. Sullivan brings to her new appointment a wealth of experience in space exploration, technology and science,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. “Ensuring ever-improving information and forecasts of weather, climate and ocean systems based on the best available data is critical to businesses and communities across the U.S. I cannot think of anyone more qualified than Kathy to take on this important role at NOAA at a time when the U.S. economy is depending on science and innovation to remain competitive.”

Dr. Sullivan will provide agency-wide direction with regard to satellites, space weather, water, and ocean observations and forecasts to best serve American communities and businesses. Working closely with Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management and Deputy Administrator Dr. Larry Robinson and NOAA’s forthcoming chief scientist, Dr. Sullivan will help ensure the effective integration of activities, information, products and services across NOAA.

“It is with great pleasure that I welcome Kathy back to the NOAA family,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Her expertise spans the breadth of the work we do at this diverse agency, and her experience and vision will help the agency continue to improve upon the many critical products and services we provide every day to the American people. “

Dr. Sullivan’s impressive expertise spans the frontiers of space and sea. An accomplished oceanographer, Dr. Sullivan was appointed NOAA chief scientist in 1993, where she oversaw a research and technology portfolio that included fisheries biology, climate change, satellite instrumentation and marine biodiversity.

“I am thrilled to be back at NOAA and look forward to the challenges and opportunities that await me,” said Sullivan, who served as chief scientist at NOAA from 1993 to 1996.

About Dr. Kathryn Sullivan

Kathy Sullivan was the inaugural director of the Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy in the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University. Prior to joining Ohio State, Dr. Sullivan served a decade as President and CEO of the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio, one of the nation's leading science museums. Dr. Sullivan joined COSI after three years' service as Chief Scientist at NOAA, where she oversaw research and technology programs agency-wide. Dr. Sullivan was one of the first six women selected to join the NASA astronaut corps in 1978 and holds the distinction of being the first American woman to walk in space. She flew on three shuttle missions during her 15-year tenure, including the mission that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope. Dr. Sullivan has also served on the National Science Board (2004-2010) and as an oceanographer in the U.S. Navy Reserve (1988-2006).  She holds a bachelor's degree in earth sciences from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a doctorate in geology from Dalhousie University in Canada.

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