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In May 2014, Dr. Richard W. Spinrad became the second person to be appointed to the position of NOAA’s Chief Scientist since its first chief scientist, former astronaut and earth scientist Kathryn Sullivan, held the job in the mid-1990s (Dr. Sullivan is now NOAA’s Administrator). NOAA reestablished this position in 2009 as a presidential appointment requiring confirmation by the U.S. Senate; however, because of changes to federal personnel rules, Dr. Spinrad did not need Senate confirmation.
Prior to this position with NOAA, he served as head of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research from 2005 – 2010, and from 2003 – 2005 as the head of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, leading NOAA’s oceans and coastal zone programs. Dr. Spinrad led the White House Committee that developed the nation’s first set of ocean research priorities and oversaw the revamping of NOAA’s research enterprise. Prior to returning to NOAA, he was Vice President for Research at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR from 2011- 2014, and served as a research director with the U.S. Navy.
He is a recipient of Presidential Meritorious Rank Awards from Presidents George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama. He is Past-President of the Oceanography Society and President-Elect of the Marine Technology Society, as well as a Fellow of the following: American Meteorological Society, Marine Technology Society, and the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology. Dr. Spinrad received his B.A. in earth and planetary sciences from The Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) and his M.S. and Ph.D., both in oceanography, from Oregon State University.