George Sugihara Named McQuown Chair in Natural Science at Scripps Oceanography


Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has named George Sugihara as the inaugural holder of the McQuown Chair in Natural Science. A former holder of the John Dove Isaacs Chair in Natural Philosophy at Scripps, Sugihara employs his skills in applied mathematics and theoretical biology to explore natural systems and to more fully understand their nonlinear or "chaotic" patterns. Sugihara's current research at Scripps is aimed at finding solutions to environmental problems through a combination of scientific and financial market innovations, two areas which reflect his unusual background as a scientist and investment banker.

In June 2006, John "Mac" and Leslie McQuown made a gift of $350,000 to create an endowed chair in natural science at Scripps. The McQuowns wanted to support a stellar faculty member with exceptional multidisciplinary scope, who could contribute to novel interdisciplinary education and research programs in mathematical biology, environmental science and economic resource issues. Their gift was supplemented by $150,000 in matching funds from UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox as part of a six-month Chancellor's Chair Challenge, bringing the chair funding to $500,000.

"I personally think there could not have been a better choice than George for the McQuown Chair," said John "Mac" McQuown. "During my association with Scripps I've gotten to know George, and Leslie and I are extremely interested in the research that he is executing,"

"I am thrilled about this, and profoundly grateful for Mac and Leslie McQuown's generosity to Scripps and their vision," said Sugihara. "New interdisciplinary work is difficult to support. It takes individuals like Mac and Leslie to champion an idea as unusual as bringing market innovation and science together to solve environmental problems."

Support from the McQuown Chair will allow Sugihara to continue to lead collaborations across academic disciplines as well as with governmental and industrial partners to facilitate solutions to the challenges of sustainable marine resource management, especially in relation to declining marine fisheries. Sugihara believes that sustainable fisheries can benefit from skillful quantitative forecasting of wild fish stocks and the use of financial market tools to quantify and control risk.

Sugihara is a professor of biological oceanography in the Physical Oceanography Research Division at Scripps. He conducts research on a variety of natural science topics including ecology, neuroscience and atmospheric science. His work on forecasting and understanding complex patterns developed with Lord Robert May of Oxford led him to the world of investment banking where he consulted for Merrill Lynch and eventually became a Managing Director for Deutsche Bank. There, as head of Global Quantitative Proprietary Trading, his research was successfully applied to automated trading on world financial markets. Since his return to academia in 2002, his prior financial experience has inspired his recent work at Scripps that focuses on designing market tools to support sustainable marine fisheries.

"I am very grateful to the McQuowns for their generous support and foresight, which helps strengthen Scripps's ability to attract and retain the brightest minds to lead the world in ocean, climate, and earth sciences," said Scripps Director Tony Haymet. "George is a valued asset to Scripps's research endeavors, and I'm pleased that his important scientific contributions will be supported through this key academic position. Likewise, in addition to his altruism, Mac has been a great source of advice and wise counsel to me during my 15 months as Director."

Sugihara received an M.S. in biology in 1980 and a Ph.D. in mathematical biology in 1983, both from Princeton University, where he received the Ogden Porter Jabocbus Prize, Princeton's highest academic award given by the Graduate School.

Prior to joining Scripps in 1986, Sugihara was the Wigner Prize Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and concurrently associate professor of Mathematics at the University of Tennessee. He has been a visiting professor at Cornell University, Imperial College London, Kyoto University and the Tokyo Institute of Technology. He held the UC San Diego John Dove Isaacs Chair at Scripps Oceanography from 1990 to 1995, and was a visiting fellow at Merton College, Oxford University, in 2002. He is recipient of several national and international awards, and is currently a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Mathematical Sciences and its Applications, a National Research Council advisory board that advises government agencies and guides the nation's mathematics agenda to better serve national needs.

Scripps donor Mac McQuown is a founder and was chairman of KMV Analytics LLC, which was acquired by Moody's in 2002. Moody's KMV is the world's leading provider of quantitative credit-risk analysis solutions to lenders, investors and corporations. Subsequent to the sale of KMV, McQuown and partners founded Diversified Credit Investments, LLC (DCI), a successful multi-billion dollar investment fund based on extensions of the KMV risk analysis. McQuown is also a member of the Scripps Advisory Council.

McQuown developed an interest in the oceans from his early experiences in the Navy and began scuba diving in the mid-1970s to spend time in the waters of Southern California and Hawaii. McQuown was an expert panelist at a recent UC San Diego Greenovation forum on market solutions and sustainability in ocean resources.

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