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NSF selects Roberta Marinelli as director of the Office of Polar Programs

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NSF selects Roberta Marinelli as director of the Office of Polar Programs

August 2, 2021

Dr. Roberta Marinelli is a recognized leader in the geoscience community. She is currently the Dean of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at the Oregon State University (OSU), where she oversees major research projects, large facilities, and academic programs that train the next generation of geoscientists.  She also is the Executive Dean for the Earth System Science Division at Oregon State University (OSU), and the Associate Director for NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Studies. Prior to her arrival at OSU, Dr. Marinelli was the Executive Director of the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Southern California (2011-2016), where she oversaw the Wrigley Marine Science Center, and focused on interdisciplinary research programs to advance sustainabilityShe received her A. B. from Brown University and her Ph.D. from the Marine Science Program at the University of South Carolina.  

Dr. Marinelli has many years of experience at NSF, and within OPP.  She has twice served as a program director, first in Antarctic Biology and Medicine (1997-2000), and subsequently in Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems (2005-2011)During her time at NSF, she participated in the development of major ocean programs and cross-directorate initiatives, and advanced international partnerships to enhance Antarctic research capability. She has a robust understanding of NSF’s critical role in creating opportunities for the research community and supporting research infrastructure that enables polar science.  

 “I am deeply honored to serve the research community as OPP director, and excited to join such a dedicated and high performing team,” states Marinelli.  From their role in the earth system, to the sensitive ecosystems and organisms they support, to the platform they provide to observe the universe, polar regions are a global concern.  NSF’s stewardship of polar research has never been more important.”    

As a member of the academic community, Dr. Marinelli held professorial positions at the University of Georgia’s Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, and the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science, where her research program focused on the ecology and biogeochemistry of the seafloor.  She was among the early recipients of an NSF CAREER award in Chemical Oceanography.   

Dr. Marinelli’s academic leadership, and participation in review panels and external evaluative committees, has deepened her understanding of NSF’s role in sustaining a vibrant and diverse US research community.  She was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s (NASEM) committee on “Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering and Medicine” as well as “Sea Change: Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Dr. Marinelli was also the OPP Advisory Committee Liaison to the NASEM committee that produced the report “A Strategic Vision and Implementation Plan for the U.S. Antarctic Program at the National Science Foundation.   


The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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