Robert Gagosian, Ph.D.


Consortium for Ocean Leadership






In November of 2007, Robert B. Gagosian was appointed the first President/CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, which was formed by the merger of the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE) and the Joint Oceanographic Institutions (JOI). As President, Gagosian oversees the management of major research and education programs, accounting for roughly $250 million. Gagosian also coordinates the community’s advocacy efforts, articulating to policy makers the importance of ocean research and education to the nation.

Previously, Gagosian served as Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). A position he held from 1994 until 2006, following a distinguished career as a marine geochemist that included five years as Chairman of the Chemistry Department, six years as WHOI Director of Research and two as Senior Associate Director.

As a research scientist, Gagosian studied organic substances produced by marine organisms and their transport and transformation as they disperse through the water column to the seafloor. His research led to the importance of the atmosphere as a transport mechanism for land-derived organic material to the open ocean. He participated in four major field programs, including the Sea-Air Exchange Program, which he served as an Executive Committee member, and 14 oceanographic research voyages, including seven as chief scientist. He is the author or co-author of some 85 scientific papers and several technical reports. Gagosian mentored five Ph.D. students and nine postdoctoral fellows, who are currently pursuing careers in several American universities and corporations and in other countries ranging from Australia to Switzerland.

A Massachusetts native, Gagosian pursued his own academic career first at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1966 and was named outstanding undergraduate in the Chemistry Department, and then moved to Columbia University, where he received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1970. From 1970 to 1972, he was a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2000 he received Honorary Doctor of Science Degrees from Long Island University and Northeastern University.

In 1972, Gagosian was named an Assistant Scientist at WHOI, where he ascended through the ranks of academic and administrative appointments. In 1998, he was appointed as Chairman of the Board of Governors for the 90-institution Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education serving until 2001, and was a member of the Ocean Research Advisory Panel of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program. In 2001 he was appointed a Faculty Fellow of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland serving three years. In 2002 he was appointed to serve on the Science Advisory Panel of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and elected a Fellow of The American Academy of Arts & Sciences. In 2005 he was appointed to serve as a commissioner of the U.S. National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Also in 2005, Dr. Gagosian was elected a Fellow of The Explorers Club and in 2006 received the “Champion of the Oceans Award” by Monmouth University. His op-ed pieces and editorials have appeared in a number of publications including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Science and his views on the importance of the oceans to the future of our society have been expressed in numerous personal presentations worldwide.

He has also served on a wide variety of visiting and advisory committees and research panels for the National Academy of Sciences, National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and universities and research organizations in the US and internationally and participated in numerous ocean related activities with the U.S. Congress and White House. Most recently in 2007 he chaired the Oregon State University President’s Commission on Ocean, Coastal, and Earth System Futures, participated in the Petra, Jordan Conference of Nobel Laureates on Building a Better World, and presented the graduation address at the College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences of the University of Washington. In addition, he served as a regional board member of BankBoston and is on the science advisory board of Climos, Inc. and the corporations of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, the Sea Education Association, and WHOI.