Curiosity Expert: Robert B. Gagosian
President & CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership
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In November of 2007, Robert B. Gagosian was appointed as the first President & CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, which was formed by the merger of the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE) and the Joint Oceanographic Institutions (JOI). As President, Gagosian oversees the management of major research and education programs. Gagosian also coordinates the community's advocacy efforts, articulating to policy makers the importance of ocean research and education to the nation.
Previously, Gagosian served as Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). A position he held from 1994 until 2006. Gagosian began his career at WHOI in 1972 when he was named an Assistant Scientist. From then on, he had a distinguished career there as a geochemist, which included five years as Chairman of the Chemistry Department, six years as WHOI Director of Research and two as Senior Associate Director.
As a research chemist, Gagosian studied organic substances produced by marine organisms and their transport and transformation as they dispersed through the water column to the seafloor. His research led to the importance of the atmosphere as a transport mechanism for land-derived organic material to the open ocean. He participated in four major field programs, including the Sea-Air Exchange Program, where he served as an Executive Committee member, and 14 oceanographic research voyages, including seven as chief scientist. He is the author or co-author of some 85 scientific papers and several technical reports. Gagosian mentored five Ph.D. students and nine postdoctoral fellows, who are currently pursuing careers in several American universities and corporations, as well as in other countries, ranging from Australia to Switzerland.
A Massachusetts native, Gagosian pursued his academic career first at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he completed a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1966 and was named outstanding undergraduate in the Chemistry Department, and then moved to Columbia University, where he received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1970. From 1970 to 1972, he was a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2000, he received Honorary Doctor of Science Degrees from Long Island University and Northeastern University.
From 1993 to 1998, Gagosian was a member of the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences.
In 1998, he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Governors for the 90-institution Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education serving until 2001, and was a member of the Ocean Research Advisory Panel of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program. Also in 1998, Gagosian received the Secretary of State's Open Forum Distinguished Public Service Award.
In the late 1990's, Gagosian was heavily involved with the Clinton administration's creation of the White House Ocean Act.
In 2001, he was appointed a Faculty Fellow of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, serving for three years. In 2002, he was appointed to serve on the Science Advisory Panel of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and elected a Fellow of The American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
In 2005, he was appointed to serve as a commissioner of the U.S. National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Also in 2005, Gagosian was elected a Fellow of The Explorers Club.
In 2006, he received the "Champion of the Oceans Award" by Monmouth University. From 2006 and 2007, Gagosian served as the Senior Science Advisor to the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. In this capacity, he assisted in building the scientific content of the Sant Ocean Hall.
In 2010, Gagosian, with the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, hosted a science symposium with federal partners, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Geological Survey and National Science Foundation, at Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill activities of the federal agencies and non-federal ocean research community.
In 2011, Gagosian represented U.S. oceanography at the India-U.S. Workshop on Science, Diplomacy and Policy, which was organized by AAAS and the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) of India.
Gagosian has also served on a wide variety of visiting and advisory committees and research panels for the National Academy of Sciences, National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and universities and research organizations around the world. He has also participated in numerous ocean-related activities within the U.S. Congress and White House.
Gagosian's op-ed pieces and editorials have appeared in a number of publications, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Science magazine and his views on the importance of the oceans to the future of our society have been expressed in countless presentations worldwide.