Aquarium of the Pacific announces new president, CEO

The Aquarium of the Pacific announced a new CEO to replace Jerry Schubel, who is stepping down after guiding the aquarium since 2002 and whose tenure included the opening of Pacific Visions, the facility’s first major expansion in 2019.

Peter Kareiva, the director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, will take over as CEO and president of the aquarium, the fourth largest in the U.S., on Aug. 1.

Kareiva “has a wealth of experience and connections in conservation, research, fundraising, and management that will enable him to build upon the qualities that make the Aquarium a world-class institution,” Board Chair Kathleen Eckert said in a statement.

Before coming to UCLA, Kareiva was the chief scientist and vice president of The Nature Conservancy, where he was responsible for maintaining the quality of more than 600 staff engaged in conservation science in 36 countries around the world.

He studied political science and zoology at Duke University for his bachelor’s degree and ecology and applied mathematics at Cornell University for his Ph.D. He is the author of more than 150 scientific publications and author or editor of eight books, including a textbook on conservation science.

Kareiva said in a statement that it is his love of the ocean that brought him to the local Aquarium.

“There is no better place to share the wonders of the marine world with a diverse community, and no better platform from which to engage the global community in saving our oceans,” he said.

Schubel had presided over the aquarium for nearly two decades, balancing the entertainment aspects of the facility with a full slate of scientific and educational seminars over the years. Schubel, a respected scientist and conservationist, earned his doctorate in oceanography from Johns Hopkins and a master’s degree from Harvard. Prior to coming to Long Beach, he was president of the New England Aquarium from 1994 to 2001 and had been director of the Marine Science Research Center at Stony Brook for 20 years.

Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, Kareiva was the Director of Conservation Biology at the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, and, before that he was a Professor at the University of Washington and Brown University.

His current research concerns the connection between humans and nature, and the varied ways people of different cultures value nature, as well as inequities in access to nature and decent environments.  He is generally interested in the mix of individual behavior, corporate practices, and government regulations or incentives that will be most successful in conservation.

Kareiva has recently begun to do research on science communication, particularly with respect to climate science.  In the past he has published on biotechnology, agriculture, risk assessment, climate change, invasive species, and the importance of getting our children into nature.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.
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