Dr. Usha Varanasi, former NWFSC Science Director (1994-2010), is among the 396 new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, announced this week. Election as a fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers. Fellows are recognized for meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications.
Dr. Varanasi, currently an affiliate professor of aquatic and fishery sciences, chemistry and law at the University of Washington, was elected for her contributions to environmental chemistry and toxicology.
She is particularly noted for establishing and communicating the impact of environmental contaminants — especially hydrocarbons — on marine organisms and ecosystems. Her research on how marine organisms process contaminants led to the development of techniques used by NOAA to inform the impacts of oil-related pollution on fisheries resources and ensure that seafood is safe for human consumption.
Based on their widely recognized expertise in oil spill detection and rapid analysis, Varanasi and her team were at the forefront of the agency’s seafood safety response after environmental catastrophes, including the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Persian Gulf War and Hurricane Katrina.
Dr. Varanasi retired at the end of 2010 as the science and research director of the NWFSC, a position she held since 1994 when she became the first woman to lead a fisheries field office. She was also dedicated to mentoring women and minorities in the sciences, which was critical to establishing a diverse and effective scientific workforce at the NWFSC and throughout NOAA. She also created a number of innovative opportunities for scientists in the region to
interact, collaborate, and advance fisheries science that continue to this day, including the Center’s weekly Monster Seminar Jam, biennial Science Symposium, and Internal Grants Program.
Dr. Varanasi is now a Distinguished Scholar in Residence with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment and the Center for Urban Waters.
For More Information
“AAAS names 8 UW Researchers as fellows in 2017,” UW News, November 22, 2017