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UTIG Director Accepts NSF Leadership Role

Terrence M. Quinn

In July 2018, Terrence M. Quinn left his role as director of the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) to join the National Science Foundation (NSF) as director of the Division of Ocean Sciences.

“I am honored to have had a small role in UTIG’s great history, and its future is bright,” Quinn said. “I depart with a deep admiration and respect for the UTIG scientists, technical staff, administrative staff and students. I will miss my friends and colleagues in Austin, but onward to Alexandria. I look forward to serving the ocean sciences community.”

Quinn will remain a faculty member at the Jackson School of Geosciences. UTIG Associate Director Mrinal Sen will serve as interim director while the Jackson School undertakes an international search for a new permanent UTIG director.Quinn has been UTIG director since 2009. He joined the Jackson School as a distinguished visiting professor in 2005 and then as a professor in 2006. Prior to joining the Jackson School, he was a professor at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science.

Dean Sharon Mosher said she was proud of Quinn and what he accomplished at UTIG.

“I see this as very positive for the Jackson School and UT Austin — this prestigious position reflects well on our reputation,” Mosher said. “When Terry returns to the Jackson School at the end of his term, he will bring with him a better understanding of national priorities and NSF funding.”

As a scientist, Quinn’s area of expertise is paleoceanography and paleoclimatology, focused on the tropical to subtropical oceans. He has written or co-authored over 75 peer-reviewed papers, many of them with his graduate students. He also served as a lead author of a chapter in the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and has served in numerous advisory and service roles within the ocean sciences community.

Under Quinn’s leadership, UTIG’s budget increased by about $10 million, and its climate and planetary geophysics groups expanded significantly. Among other highlights during Quinn’s tenure, he helped establish new royalty streams to diversify UTIG’s funding, including partnering with a geophysical service company to market seismic data from the Gulf of Mexico, which has yielded about $4 million in royalties to UTIG so far.

“Over the nine years he has been director, the institute has undergone significant positive changes and made numerous scientific advances,” Mosher said. “The institute has increased its diversity in terms of science, youth and gender. His leadership for UTIG and JSG will be missed.”