A Conversation with NOAA Administrator Dr. Richard Spinrad

April 30, 2024

The message from climate experts far and wide is clear: Our future is becoming more and more dependent on confronting climate change with action and resiliency. The scientists, planners, and officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are working every day to keep us better informed about, and prepared for, the climate, weather, and environmental challenges we’re facing. Some of the questions they are focused on include:

What are the most effective and equitable ways to respond to climate change? How is climate change driving severe weather events, and what do we need to do to adapt? Where does the Inflation Reduction Act fit into helping communities build this resilience? What is a ‘Climate Ready Nation’ and what can we learn from the government’s Fifth National Climate Assessment?

On April 30, we hosted a Conversation on these questions and more with NOAA Administrator Dr. Richard Spinrad at Georgetown University Law Center.

This event was proudly co-produced with NOAA and Georgetown Climate Center.

View other past events here.

Dr. Richard Spinrad
NOAA Administrator

Richard (Rick) W. Spinrad, Ph.D., was sworn in on June 22, 2021 as the under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and the 11th NOAA administrator. Dr. Spinrad is responsible for the strategic direction and oversight of the agency and its over 12,000 employees, including developing NOAA’s portfolio of products and services to address the climate crisis, enhancing environmental sustainability and fostering economic development, and creating a more just, equitable, diverse and inclusive NOAA workforce.

Prior to returning to NOAA, Dr. Spinrad served as the vice president of research at Oregon State University (OSU), from 2010-2014.

Previously, Dr. Spinrad served as NOAA’s chief scientist under President Barack Obama from 2014 until 2016. He also led NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and National Ocean Service from 2003-2010. While at NOAA, Dr. Spinrad co-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, including the development of the agency’s Scientific Integrity Policy.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Spinrad held leadership positions at the U.S. Office of Naval Research and Oceanographer of the Navy, where he was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Award — the highest award given by the U.S. Navy to a civilian. He has held faculty appointments at OSU, the U.S. Naval Academy, and George Mason University; served as Executive Director at the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education; was President of Sea Tech, Inc.; and worked as a research scientist at OSU and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. He also developed the National Ocean Sciences Bowl for high school students. In the international arena, Dr. Spinrad served as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission from 2005-2009.

He is the recipient of Presidential Rank Awards from presidents George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama. Dr. Spinrad is past president of The Oceanography Society (TOS) and the Marine Technology Society. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, Marine Technology Society, TOS, and the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), and an IMarEST Chartered Marine Scientist.

Dr. Spinrad received his B.A. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from The Johns Hopkins University, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Oceanography from Oregon State University.