Bridging the UN Decade’s First Two Years

(Whole of Government/Whole of Community)

This special panel led by former NOAA Assistant Administrator Craig McLean will discuss the cross-cutting themes from the US Committee on the Decade of the Oceans. Important supporting themes include how the government and industry must play key roles to effect effectiveness with efficiencies.

Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Time: 9:45-11:00 am

Location: Virginia Beach Convention Center, specific room TBC



Craig McLean, Former Chief Scientist and Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Assistant Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration



Sarah Kapnick, Chief Scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Tom Drake, Head of Ocean Battlespace and Expeditionary Access Department, Office of Naval Research and Co-chair of the Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology

Margaret Leinen, Director of Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Co-chair of the Decade Advisory Board

Larry Mayer, Director, Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping Director, Co-Director of the Joint Hydrographic Center, and Chair of the U.S. National Committee for the Ocean Decade

Ben Williams, Metocean Director Americas at Fugro



The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (the Ocean Decade) is a global initiative to expand partnerships to support transformative marine, coastal, and Great Lakes science and management. The Decade presents an unprecedented opportunity for managers, policymakers, scientists, and citizens to collaborate across borders and basins. This type of cross-cutting collaboration and teamwork is necessary to address complex ocean issues, from understanding the effects of climate change to mapping the world’s seafloor.

2021 marked the first year of the Ocean Decade.  As we look forward to 2030 and beyond, it is important to reflect on what has been accomplished and what is needed to continue co-designing “the science we need for the ocean we want”.  Panelists from academia, government, and industry will discuss where the Ocean Decade is going and how each sector can fit into the bigger picture.


Craig McLean


Before retirement from the Federal Government in April, Craig McLean was the Assistant Administrator for NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, responsible for NOAA’s research enterprise including a network of research laboratories and the execution of NOAA programs including the Climate Program, Weather Research, National Sea Grant, and Ocean Exploration, to name a few. Among a number of formal international engagements in science and technology, Mr. McLean served as the U.S. Representative to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), and as the U.S. Representative for the U.S.-European Union-Canada Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation.  Mr. McLean has previously served throughout NOAA, in the National Marine Fisheries Service, National Ocean Service, NOAA’s General Counsel, and was the founding Director of NOAA’s Ocean Exploration program. He served in uniform for nearly 25 years in NOAA’s Commissioned Corps, retiring at the rank of Captain. Mr. McLean is a Fellow of the Explorers Club and of the Marine Technology Society, and a past-president and former chairman of the Sea-Space Symposium.


Dr. Sarah Kapnick

Chief Scientist, NOAA

As chief scientist, Dr. Kapnick is responsible for advancing policy and program direction for NOAA’s science and technology priorities. Prior to this position, she served as a managing director at J.P. Morgan in the role of Senior Climate Scientist and Sustainability Strategist for Asset and Wealth Management. While at J.P. Morgan, she supported sustainability and climate action efforts and served as an advisor on new business and investment opportunities and risks. She has also worked as a physical scientist and deputy division leader at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL). Dr. Kapnik received a Ph.D. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences with a Certificate in Leaders in Sustainability from UCLA, and an A.B in Mathematics with a Certificate in Finance from Princeton University.


Tom Drake

Head of Ocean Battlespace and Expeditionary Access Department, Office of Naval Research

Dr. Tom Drake heads the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Ocean Battlespace and Expeditionary Access Department. He is responsible for planning, execution, and management of applied research and advanced technology development of science and technology programs in physical oceanography, marine meteorology, ocean acoustics, Arctic and global prediction, marine mammals and biology, and the space environment. Prior to joining the Federal Civilian Service, Drake was a tenured professor at North Carolina State University, conducting research and teaching courses in terrestrial and coastal surficial processes from 1995 to 2003. Drake holds a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of numerous articles in technical journals and conference proceedings.


Dr. Margaret Leinen

Director of Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Co-chair of the Decade Advisory Board

Margaret Leinen was appointed the eleventh Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego in July 2013. She also serves as UC San Diego’s Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences and Dean of the School of Marine Sciences. She joined UC San Diego in October 2013. Leinen is an award-winning oceanographer and distinguished national and international leader in ocean science, global climate and environmental issues. Her research in paleo-oceanography and paleo-climatology focuses on ocean sediments and their relationship to global biogeochemical cycles and the history of Earth’s ocean and climate. Leinen received her doctorate in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island, her master’s degree in geological oceanography from Oregon State University, and her bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Illinois.


Larry Mayer

Director, University of New Hampshire’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping Director, Co-Director of the Joint Hydrographic Center, and Chair of the U.S. National Committee for the Ocean Decade

Larry Mayer is a Professor and the Director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire. He received a degree in geology from the University of Rhode Island and received a Ph.D. from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in marine geophysics. Larry has participated in more than 90 cruises during the last 35 years, and has been chief or co-chief scientist of numerous expeditions. He has served on, or chaired, many international panels and committees and has the requisite large number of publications on a variety of topics in marine geology and geophysics. He is the recipient of the Keen Medal for Marine Geology and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Stockholm.


Ben Williams

Metocean Director Americas at Fugro

Ben Williams is the Metocean Director for the Americas region at Fugro, based out of Houston, Texas. Fugro is the world’s leading geodata specialist, collecting and analyzing comprehensive information about the Earth and the structures built upon it. Ben has been with Fugro for over 17 years in the Metocean team and has worked globally supporting client projects. He holds a MSc in Sustainable Maritime Operations from University of Plymouth in the UK. Ben has been active for the past five years fostering Fugro’s metocean activities supporting public, private, and academic partnerships in ocean observing. He is an active member of NOAA’s IOOS Gulf Coast regional association and sits on the Board of Directors for the Mid-Atlantic Regional association (MARACOOS).