Jesse Ausubel

Most Influential Person

American environmental scientist

Why Is Jesse Ausubel Influential?

Areas of Specialization: Biodiversity, Ecology
Jesse H. Ausubel is the Director of the Program for the Human Environment and Senior Research Associate at The Rockefeller University, chair of the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, a former executive of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and an environmental scientist. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and two master’s degrees from Columbia University.

Ausubel’s work over the course of forty years has spanned marine life to forests and farms, human population, energy and materials, and climate in an effort to elaborate the vision for a large, prosperous society that emits little or nothing harmful and spares large amounts of land and sea for nature. Ausubel has focused attention on technological solutions for environmental problems, including dematerialization, decarbonization, and land-sparing. Private foundations including Sloan, MacArthur, and Robert Wood Johnson have supported him, as well as US Federal government agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the departments of Energy and Defense.

Ausubel has developed numerous successful large-scale cooperative international research programs. He is probably best known for the Census of Marine Life (2000-2010), which assessed the diversity, distribution, and abundance of all life in the oceans. Other programs in which he played a major role include the World Climate Program; International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (Global Change Program); Encyclopedia of Life, an online compendium aiming for a webpage for every species; and the Deep Carbon Observatory (2009-2019), which explored the origins of oil and gas as well as the origins of life. At present Ausubel continues deeply involved in measuring marine biodiversity through loose DNA in seawater (eDNA), an offshoot of the Barcode of Life Initiative. He is also a founder of the International Quiet Ocean Experiment, which has benefited from the reduction of human noise added to the oceans during the COVID-19 pandemic to learn about effects of sound on marine ecology. He was also a founder of Industrial Ecology, which aims at large reductions in waste and a more circular economy.

Ausubel has been awarded honorary doctorates from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. A genus of Bryozoans, the Jessethoa, as well as a deepwater lobster, the Dinochelus ausubeli, are named in his honor.

Ausubel is the 2022 winner of the prestigious Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest, presented annually by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego.

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According to Wikipedia, Jesse Huntley Ausubel is an American environmental scientist and program manager of a variety of global biodiversity and ecology research programs. Ausubel serves as Director and Senior Research Associate of the Program for the Human Environment of The Rockefeller University. He was also a science advisor and program manager at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation where his main area of responsibility was supporting basic research in science and technology.

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