In an announcement Feb. 25, USC College Dean Howard Gillman named Manahan to lead the institute for a three-year term beginning April 1.
Manahan succeeds Anthony Michaels, who after 12 years leaves the post to pursue other opportunities.
“I know that you will join me in thanking Tony Michaels for his years of exemplary service, and that you will extend to Donal Manahan your best wishes and full support as he takes on this exciting and important responsibility,” Gillman wrote.
“Donal Manahan’s scientific expertise, administrative experience and passion for the mission of the Wrigley Institute will ensure even greater levels of excellence and impact for the institute’s vital research and outreach programs.”
Housed in the College, the Wrigley Institute was created in 1995. Its mission is to encourage responsible and creative decisions in society by providing an objective source of marine and environmental science, and fostering an understanding of the natural world among people of all ages. Located about 20 miles off the Los Angeles coast on Catalina Island, the heart of the institute is the Philip K. Wrigley Marine Science Center, where as many as 24 researchers and 60 students work in eight laboratories.
“I’m very excited and honored,” Manahan said of his new post. “Certainly, the study of our environment is one of the most critical, pressing issues in our society for decades to come. The role of the Wrigley Institute is to put forward factual information about the sometimes contentious issues surrounding the environment and communicate that information at many levels, from students all the way to the general public and policy makers.”
Manahan, a College faculty member since 1983, is an internationally recognized researcher specializing in the physiology and environmental adaptation of marine animals. His studies have spanned Antarctica, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, deep-sea hydrothermal vents and local California environs, including Catalina, where he was worked for more than 20 years.
A seasoned administrator, Manahan has served as dean of research in USC College, chair of biological sciences and director of marine environmental biology.
He has testified before Congress on matters related to science policy and provided scientific briefings for congressional delegations. Currently he serves on a federal advisory committee to the National Science Foundation. In 2001 he received a lifetime appointment as national associate of the National Academies, an honor recognizing “extraordinary service to the National Academies in their role as advisers to the nation.”
Manahan is well known for his work in Antarctica, where he has served as chief scientist for more than 15 scientific expeditions. He has also served as chair of the U.S. National Academies’ Polar Research Board.
For more than a decade he has directed graduate-level international training programs in Antarctica, funded by the National Science Foundation to study the significance of polar regions in global climate change. In 2000 Antarctica’s 6,000-foot Manahan Peak was named in honor of his contributions to research and education about the icy continent.
In his announcement, Gillman applauded Michaels’ service to Wrigley.
“For more than a decade Tony Michaels has worked to make [the institute] one of the world’s finest institutes for marine science and environmental studies,” Gillman wrote. “It has become a model for the interface of outstanding research, effective outreach and education, and impactful solutions to the challenges facing our world.”
That sentiment was echoed by Michael Quick, executive vice dean in the College, and Delta Murphy, chair of the institute’s board of advisers.
“Under the leadership of Tony Michaels, the Wrigley Institute has become one of the premier marine institutes in the country,” Quick said. “Donal Manahan is the perfect choice as director to continue the institute’s upward trajectory.”
“He’s filling big shoes. Tony did a superb job,” Murphy said. “Donal has the background, all of the credentials, the vision, the enthusiasm, and he too is part of our Wrigley Institute family, as we call it. I know he’ll do a wonderful job.”
Manahan has global aspirations for the Wrigley Institute.
“Many of the faculty associated with the Wrigley Institute have research programs that span from the local to the global,” he said. “For instance, I have worked in Antarctica for over 20 years, and many of the lessons I’ve learned during that time regarding environmental change have immediate applications at the local level for students at USC.
“By bringing back the global perspective to USC and to the public, the Wrigley Institute is poised to make a major contribution to the study of our environment.”