Usha Varanasi

Distinguished Scholar in Residence
University of Washington | Tacoma

Dr. Usha Varanasi’s leadership and vision have had deep and lasting impacts in the Pacific Northwest and beyond, including her involvement in establishing the Center for Urban Waters, and her long term service to the University of Washington as affiliate professor with the Chemistry department and School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

Dr. Varanasi also serves as a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the University of Washington College of the Environment, and was recently inducted into the Washington State Academy of Sciences. On December 31, 2010 she retired as the Science and Research Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, a position she had held since 1994, when she became the first woman to lead a fisheries field office. With over 30 years of service in NOAA, she has dedicated much of her career to applying chemistry to critical biological questions, advancing our understanding and improving regulatory, management, and public policy decisions.

From 2004-2010, Dr. Varanasi served as the director of NOAA’s Westcoast Center of Excellence for Ocean and Human Health. Through this center, scientists close a critical loop by more completely assessing how degradation of oceans and aquatic ecosystems can affect the health and well-being of people. From 2007-2010, Dr. Varanasi also served as the lead for Department of Commerce (through NOAA) on the Executive Committee of the West Coast Governors Agreement on Ocean Health.