Craig McLean served in NOAA for more than 40 years attaining the rank of Captain in NOAA’s uniformed Commissioned Corps and as a member of the Senior Executive Service. He has worked in marine operations, marine law, and policy leadership positions at, on, and under the sea. At the time of his retirement in 2022 he held three positions: NOAA Assistant Administrator for Research, acting NOAA Chief Scientist, and the US head of delegation to the UN’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, a position in which he served for eleven years. In this role he was instrumental in expanding global ocean mapping and measurements, and in creating the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Upon his retirement President Biden recognized McLean for his service, leadership, and for promoting scientific integrity. Still active in ocean matters after retirement, McLean is serving as the senior advisor to the president of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He is also an advisor to The Ocean Foundation, the Rising Seas Institute, and The Ocean Race.
Craig is a 2009 Fellow of the Marine Technology Society, a Rutgers University 250th Anniversary Fellow, and a Fellow of The Explorers Club. He is the 2020 recipient of the Compass Distinguished Achievement Award, the 2021 recipient of the Support of Science Award from the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, and a 2022 finalist in both the Service to America Medals sponsored by the Partnership for Public Service, and the John Maddox Prize sponsored by the Journal Nature for “standing up for sound science and evidence in the public interest and showing courage and integrity in the face of challenges and hostility.”