Hurdling obstacles

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Science  08 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6295, pp. 116-119
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6295.116

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Earlier this month, Marcia McNutt officially became the president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the latest in a long line of accomplishments for the geophysicist, many of them a first for a woman—she previously ran the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), was president and CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and most recently was editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals. None of those stints were easy—she dealt with the massive oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon explosion and pushed through a major reorganization while at USGS, for example. Colleagues say that a mix of decisiveness, humanity, and negotiating skill have served McNutt well both as a researcher and an administrator. "I bow my head to Marcia," says Massachusetts Institute of Technology physical oceanographer Paola Malanotte-Rizzoli. "She has a spine of iron."

  • * Ellen Ruppel Shell, professor and co-director in the graduate program in science journalism at Boston University, is author of Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. Colin Norman, who was Science's news editor until 2013, edited this article.