The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) could have a new leader soon; President Joe Biden nominated oceanographer Dr. Richard Spinrad to become the agency’s administrator. Dr. Spinrad is no stranger to NOAA: under the Obama administration, he served as Chief Scientist at NOAA.
The role of NOAA Administrator has been vacant since 2017. President Trump nominated previous AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers to the post. However, the Senate didn’t act on his nomination prior to him withdrawing from the nomination due to a healthcare issue in 2019. Dr. Neil Jacobs, Acting Administrator for NOAA was also nominated to lead the agency by President Trump, but his presidency ended before he could be confirmed. The position has been vacant since October 2017 when President Obama’s administrator, Benjamin Friedman, left his post.
Dr. Spinrad is an internationally recognized scientist and executive with more than 35 years of experience. He began his career as a research scientist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Maine. From there, he went on to manage a small R&D firm, Sea Tech, Inc. in Corvallis, Oregon (1986-1987) and then joined the Office of Naval Research as a program manager (1987-1988). From 1988 to 1993, Dr. Spinrad served as the director of the ocean biology, optics, and chemistry division (1988-1993) and the director of the ocean, atmosphere and space modeling and prediction division (1993-1994), both within the Office of Naval Research. During this time he also served as an adjunct professor in oceanography at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia (1994-1997).
Dr. Spinrad also has experience in the non-profit sector having served as executive director for research and education at the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education, Inc. (CORE) in Washington, D.C. (1994-1999). While at CORE, Dr. Spinrad supervised research studies of midshipmen as an adjunct associate professor at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. (1996-1999). As technical director for the Oceanographer of the United States Navy (1999-2003), Dr. Spinrad served as the senior civilian advisor to the U.S. Navy on operational oceanographic and meteorological research and operations. He also established the priorities for the U.S. Navy investment in application of oceanographic products to fleet operations.
In 2016 Dr. Spinrad retired as Chief Scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where he had been appointed by President Barack Obama in 2014.
Today, Dr. Spinrad is Professor of Oceanography and Senior Adviser to the Vice President of Research at Oregon State University.
Hearings for Dr. Spinrad’s nomination have not yet been scheduled.