Dr. Jerry Schubel, president and CEO of the Aquarium of the Pacific for the last 17 years, has announced he will retire next year.
Schubel joined the aquarium in 2002, just four years after it opened. During his tenure, he has developed the aquarium into a nationally-known center for oceanic research and climate change impacts. He was the driving force behind the aquarium's recently opened expansion, Pacific Visions, dedicated specifically to looking to the future of the planet and the ocean's role in that.
“Jerry Schubel’s visionary leadership has created a lasting legacy for the aquarium and for the city of Long Beach,” Board Chair Kathleen Eckert said in the announcement release. “We are incredibly grateful for his hard work and for his unwavering commitment. He leaves us well-positioned to successfully carry out our mission for years to come.”
Schubel will stay in his position while the board conducts the search for his replacement. The announcement said the board expects that transition will happen in summer 2020.
Virtually from the moment he arrived, Schubel has emphasized the aquarium's role as educator of both school children and the public. He organized several unique forums, including a gathering of the top ocean explorers in 2013 and a forum bringing together climate scientists, psychologists and other social scientists to explore ways to motivate people to act on climate change in 2016. He also directs the Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Research Institute (MCRI), which hosts many of these forums and supports research and does policy work on local and national marine issues.
In 2015, Mayor Robert Garcia asked Schubel to lead an effort to assess the threats to Long Beach due to climate change and an assessment of options to reduce those threats. That report was released in 2016 and has become a model for similar efforts.
At the same time, Schubel has worked to raise the aquarium's profile to the public. His special exhibits and promotions have increased aquarium attendance, and he said at the opening of Pacific Visions that attendance should top three million in the next year.
During his tenure, Schubel has forged partnerships with multiple national and international agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA. The aquarium staff has created and shared programs for its Science On A Sphere with help from those partnerships.
Schubel has published more than 200 scientific papers and has been the lead author of multiple important reports. He has a Ph.D. in Oceanography from John Hopkins University and received an honorary doctorate from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 1998.