P o l l y  A .  P e n h a l e
Polar Biology and Medicine Program Manager
National Science Foundation

Dr. Polly A. Penhale
Program Manager, Polar Biology and Medicine
Office of Polar Programs
National Science Foundation

My name is Polly Penhale and I'm the Program Manager for Polar Biology and Medicine in the Office of Polar Programs of the National Science Foundation. I am a science administrator, with responsibilities of funding research projects in the Arctic and Antarctic. Scientists who wish to pursue a biological research project in polar regions through the National Science Foundation will write a grant proposal and submit it for funding to my program. I have these proposals reviewed by experts and I take their advice and make decisions as to who receives funding. We never have enough money to support all the excellent science projects, so must make difficult decisions, funding only about one quarter of the proposals sent to us.

I became a science administrator after spending ten years doing research and teaching in the field of marine biology. I first became interested in marine science through the National Science Foundation's "Young Scholar" program, which sent me to a high school summer program at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Mississippi. I graduated from Earlham College with a major in biology and received my M.S. and Ph.D. at North Carolina State University. As an oceanographer, I've been fortunate to conduct research in many oceans and coastal regions, including coastal Alaska, the Caribbean, Florida, and the Chesapeake Bay. I had post-doctorate positions at the University of Miami and Michigan State University and came to the National Science Foundation from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary.

I enjoy my role as an administrator and find it rewarding to facilitate other scientists to conduct research in polar regions. I spend much of my time in Washington, but spend about 2 months a year in Antarctica managing our science program. I also work with international groups in long range planning for scientific programs and work in the development of protected area management plans in Antarctica.

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