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Peter de Menocal

Peter B. de Menocal is the eleventh president and director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, effective Oct. 1, 2020. A marine geologist and paleoclimatologist, de Menocal's research uses deep-sea ocean sediments as archives of how and why Earth's ocean and climate have changed in the past in order to predict how they may change in the future.

Prior to assuming leadership of WHOI, de Menocal was the Thomas Alva Edison/Con Edison Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. In 2015, he became the founding director of Columbia's Center for Climate & Life, a research accelerator of 120 scientists and other experts dedicated to understanding how climate affects life's essentials-the security of food, water, and shelter-and to exploring sustainable energy solutions in partnership with industry, finance, and government.

From 2016 to 2019, De Menocal served as Columbia's Dean of Science for the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, overseeing 240 faculty across the university's nine scientific departments. During his tenure as dean, de Menocal developed and carried out a strategic plan that helped double philanthropic support for the sciences at Columbia, significantly increase success in winning large center and institute awards, and increase faculty hiring rates for women and under-represented minorities in the natural sciences.

De Menocal has published more than 150 scientific papers over his decades-long career in oceanography. He has received numerous awards and distinctions, including Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, AGU Emiliani lecturer, a Lenfest Columbia Distinguished Faculty award, and a Distinguished Brooksian award. He earned a doctorate in geology from Columbia University and a master's degree in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island, and was awarded an honorary doctorate from St. Lawrence University.


  • –present
    Director, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution