Nancy Knowlton researches the ecology, evolution and conservation of coral reef organisms as the Sant Chair in Marine Science at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Her book Citizens of the Sea reveals the strange and wondrous creatures that inspired her and thousands of other scientists to carry out the Census of Marine Life, a 10-year international effort to map out the diversity, distribution and abundance of ocean organisms.
Knowlton received her undergraduate degree at Harvard University and her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. She was a professor at Yale University prior to moving to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, where she worked for 14 years. She then joined the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego, where she was the founding Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation. She is an elected fellow and former member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow. In 2009 she received the Peter Benchley Award for science in the service of marine conservation, and in 2011 she received the Heinz Award for leadership in the field of the environment.
Photo by Christian Ziegler