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President and Director

Peter B. de Menocal is the eleventh president and director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, effective Oct. 1, 2020. A marine geologist and paleoclimatologist, de Menocal’s research uses deep-sea ocean sediments as archives of how and why Earth’s ocean and climate have changed in the past in order to predict how they may change in the future.

Prior to assuming leadership of WHOI, de Menocal was the Thomas Alva Edison/Con Edison Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. In 2015, he became the founding director of Columbia’s Center for Climate & Life, a research accelerator of 120 scientists and other experts dedicated to understanding how climate affects life’s essentials—the security of food, water, and shelter—and exploring sustainable energy solutions in partnership with industry, finance, and government.

From 2016 to 2019, De Menocal served as Columbia’s Dean of Science for the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, overseeing 240 faculty across the university’s nine scientific departments. During his tenure as dean, de Menocal developed and carried out a strategic plan that helped to double philanthropic support for the sciences at Columbia, significantly increase success in winning large center and institute awards, and increase faculty hiring rates for women and under-represented minorities in the natural sciences.

De Menocal has published more than 150 scientific papers over his decades-long career in oceanography. He has received numerous awards and distinctions, including Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, AGU Emiliani lecturer, a Lenfest Columbia Distinguished Faculty award, and a Distinguished Brooksian award. He earned a doctorate in geology from Columbia University and a master’s degree in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island, and was awarded an honorary doctorate from St. Lawrence University.

Reports & Statements

Statement on Harassment and Bullying

September 9, 2021

WHOI Position on Research Independence and Integrity

WHOI’s fundamental methods and scientific standards do not change based on funding. Researchers are free to propose and pursue investigations guided by their interests and expertise.

Progress Report on Innovation: An American Imperative (pdf)

A call to action by American industry, higher education, science, and engineering leaders urging Congress to enact policies and make investments that ensure the United States remains the global innovation leader.

Statement of the Coalition for National Security Research (pdf)

For the Subcommittee on Defense, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate Defense Basic Research and Science & Technology (S&T) Funding for Fiscal Year 2019.

Testimony in Support of the NSF and its Investment in Geoscience Research, Infrastructure, and Education (pdf)

Written testimony before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science Committee on  Appropriations, April 27, 2018.

Letter from CNSF on FY2018 NSF Funding (pdf)

Members of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) urge leadership of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations, in the wake of new discretionary budget caps included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, to  fund NSF at $8 billion for FY2018 to help the United States remain globally competitive.

Letter to Congressional Leadership on Budget Caps and Investment in Science (pdf)

Letter dated 2/6/2018 from the Task Force on American Innovation (TFAI) signed by 95 businesses, scientific and engineering societies, and universities (including WHOI) urging Congressional leaders to reach a bipartisan budget deal that raises the sequestration level budget caps for both defense and non-defense programs.

News & Insights

Can we harness the natural power of the ocean to fight climate change?

The ocean may be able to contribute in serious ways to reduce the build up of carbon pollution that is affecting it so seriously, says WHOI President and Director Peter de Menocal

Need to Avoid Carbon ‘Gold Rush’ in the Ocean: Peter de Menocal

Bloomberg TV’s Alix Steel sits down with the president and director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Peter de Menocal, to talk about the ocean’s role in storing carbon

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo Visits Woods Hole

(From left to right): WHOI Deputy Director and Vice President for Science and Engineering Rick Murray, Mass. Congressman William Keating,…

WHOI to Launch New Center for Ocean and Climate Research

Today WHOI announced the establishment of the Francis E. Fowler IV Center for Ocean and Climate to seek new knowledge and solutions at the intersection of oceanography and climate science. A generous gift from Francis E. Fowler, IV established the center and will enable it to immediately commence operations.

WHOI scientists on warming atmosphere, weaker Gulf Stream

The warming atmosphere is causing an arm of the powerful Gulf Stream to weaken, some scientists fear

Science is the way forward

For WHOI President and Director Peter de Menocal and Deputy Director of Research Rick Murray, growing crises from climate change to COVID-19 demand a renewed faith in objective science

WHOI President & Director Dr. Peter de Menocal Recognized as AAAS Fellow

Dr. Peter de Menocal, President and Director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution of has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Convergence Accelerator could help to meet “An Ocean of Need”

Innovative National Science Foundation program aims to address major ocean-related societal issues

Who is Peter de Menocal? A Conversation with WHOI’s new President & Director

On October 1st, Dr. Peter de Menocal assumed the role of President & Director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the 11th person to hold that title since the Institution was founded in 1930. In a wide-ranging conversation, we meet the man and the scientist—and get a glimpse of what WHOI’s future may hold under his leadership.

Support the WHOI President’s Fund for Innovation

Help WHOI’s new president. Dr. Peter de Menocal, quickly build momentum and propel WHOI towards a future as a driving force in innovation. Give today.

WHOI names Peter de Menocal President and Director

Climate scientist and expert in Earth-human interactions will be the Institution’s 11th leader