National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt Will Deliver GW Commencement Address

Three-time Olympic medalist and GW alumna Elana Meyers Taylor will be awarded an honorary degree.

Marcia McNutt
March 05, 2018

President of the National Academy of Sciences and renowned geophysicist Marcia McNutt will deliver George Washington University’s 2018 Commencement address before an audience of about 25,000 graduates, friends and family members May 20 on the National Mall.

Dr. McNutt was elected president of the NAS—the United States government’s top science advisory organization—in 2016, becoming the first woman to hold the position. At the NAS, she has focused on improving ethics in science and promoting women in the field. Prior to her role as president she served as editor-in-chief of the prestigious Science family of journals.

“Marcia McNutt is not only one of our nation’s foremost scientific leaders but she also sets a powerful example as the first woman to lead one of the National Academies,” said President Thomas LeBlanc. “I am also thrilled to welcome back Elana Meyers Taylor, an exceptional athlete who embodies the spirit of competition and persistance.”

Under President Barack Obama’s administration Dr. McNutt was appointed to serve as director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), where during her tenure the agency responded to a number of major disasters, including devastating earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and Japan, and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In her role, she also responded to a California water crisis and an Asian Carp invasion in the Great Lakes.

Before joining the USGS, Dr. McNutt served as president and CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in Moss Landing, Calif. With Dr. McNutt at the helm, MBARI became a leader in developing biological and chemical sensors for remote ocean deployment, installed the first deep-sea cabled observatory in U.S. waters and advanced the integration of artificial intelligence into autonomous underwater vehicles for undersea missions.

Dr. McNutt received a B.A. in physics from Colorado College and a Ph.D. in earth sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Elana Meyers TaylorElana Meyers Taylor, B.S. ’06, M.T.A. ’11, will be awarded an honorary degree at commencement. Ms. Meyers Taylor is a three-time Olympic medalist and former standout Colonial softball player. Most recently, she received a silver medal for women’s bobsled at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The then-Ms. Meyers arrived at GW in 2003 as the softball program's first recruit and over four years became one of GW’s most decorated student athletes. The Georgia native was twice an Atlantic 10 Student-Athlete of the Year and Capital One/Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-American during her impressive career at GW.

Ms. Meyers Taylor dreamed of one day competing at the Olympic Games, and when softball was cut from the schedule of Olympic events, she turned to bobsled. After graduation she auditioned for the bobsled national team and was asked to join the team as a brakeman. She ultimately transitioned to driver in 2012.

Ms. Meyers Taylor went to her first Olympics in 2010, leaving Vancouver with a bronze medal. She returned to Sochi four years later, where she added a silver medal. Her silver medal from Pyeongchang, won alongside partner Lauren GIbbs, makes Ms. Meyers Taylor the first American woman to win three Olympics bobsled medals.

GW is the only university to hold its graduation ceremony on the National Mall. In addition to the all-university Commencement ceremony, individual schools and colleges will hold ceremonies during Commencement weekend May 17-20.

Previous GW Commencement speakers include U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, M.A. ’92, New Jersey Sen. Cory A. Booker, Apple CEO Tim Cook, award-winning actress and alumna Kerry Washington, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, then-First Lady Michelle Obama, former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush, then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and world-renowned chef and humanitarian José Andrés.

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