Our People

Nancy Knowlton

TNC Global Board Member and Sant Chair in Marine Science Emerita, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Brooksville, Maine

Headshot, Nancy Knowlton

Nancy Knowlton TNC Global Board Member and Sant Chair in Marine Science, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History © The Nature Conservancy

Areas of Expertise

Conservation, Marine Biodiversity, Global Ocean Conservation

Board Term

October 2018 – October 2027


Dr. Nancy Knowlton is Sant Chair for Marine Science Emerita at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Prior to coming to the museum in 2007, she was on faculty of Yale University (1979-1984), a staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (1984-1998), and on the faculty of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (1998-2007), where she founded the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation. She is an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, a winner of the Peter Benchley Prize and the Heinz Award, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2013. She helped direct the Census of Marine Life coral reef program and has served on the boards of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Coral Reef Alliance. Dr. Knowlton’s research centers on the diversity and conservation of life in the ocean. She authored National Geographic’s best-selling Citizens of the Sea, serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Smithsonian’s Ocean Portal website, and contributes regularly to the global ocean conversation via @seacitizens. In April 2017 she co-hosted the Smithsonian’s inaugural Earth Optimism Summit, a global celebration of progress in conservation. Dr. Knowlton is the 2019 recipient of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award for ocean research, communication and education.

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