JESSE AUSUBEL CHAIRMAN
Raised in New York and educated at Harvard and Columbia, Jesse Ausubel is Director of the Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University. Beginning in 1977, Mr. Ausubel was employed for most of the first decade of his career in Washington DC at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and National Academy of Engineering (NAE). For the Academies, as a resident fellow of the Climate Research Board, he helped organize the first UN World Climate Conference in Geneva in 1979, and wrote much of the 1983 NAS report Changing Climate, the first full review of the greenhouse effect. This work figured importantly in the work for which William Nordhaus received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2018, and Prof. Nordhaus included
Mr. Ausubel in his delegation to Stockholm.
The NAS seconded Mr. Ausubel during 1979-1981 to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), a think-tank near Vienna, Austria, established
by the US and Soviet academies of sciences to research common problems of industrialized societies amidst the Cold War. IIASA stimulated a career-long interest science and international diplomacy. During the mid-1980s, Mr. Ausubel developed and oversaw NAE studies on technology-intensive sectors of U.S. industry and globalization of technology.
Since 1989 Mr. Ausubel has served on the faculty of Rockefeller, where he leads a program to elaborate the technical vision of a large, prosperous society that emits little harmful and spares large amounts of land and sea for nature. Among concepts with which he is closely associated are dematerialization, decarbonization, industrial ecology, and land-sparing. During 1989-1993 Mr. Ausubel served also as Director of Studies for the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government, which sought ways for American government at all levels to use scientific and technical expertise better.
Beginning in 1994 for two decades Mr. Ausubel served concurrently as a program director, vice president, and science advisor for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. With Sloan, in the late 1990s Mr. Ausubel initiated the Census of Marine Life, a program to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in all oceans. In 2009 he co-founded the international Deep Carbon Observatory, a decadal quest for the origins and limits of life and for the roots of petroleum and natural gas. He also conceived the International Quiet Ocean Experiment to assess effects on marine life of sound added by human activities, a program endorsed by major oceanographic institutions in 2015. With Sloan and Lounsbery support, in the late 1990s Mr. Ausubel managed the creation and production of the first interactive simulation model of the US university, Virtual U., and spurred
development of the Serious Games movement.
Author or editor of about 200 publications, Mr. Ausubel is an adjunct scientist of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, university fellow of Resources for the Future, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations where he serves on the board of Foreign Affairs. In 2009 Dalhousie University (Canada) and in 2012 St. Andrews University (Scotland) awarded Mr. Ausubel honorary doctorates for his contributions to environmental science. Other recognition includes the Blue Frontier/Peter Benchley prize for ocean science, elected Fellowship in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the International Cosmos Prize for leadership of the Census of Marine Life. Named America’s National Ocean Champion in 2012, his portrait was included in an exhibit on two dozen leading ocean explorers. A deep sea lobster, Dinochelus ausubeli, is named in his honor.