Order of Canada: Kate Moran honoured for ocean science leadership

Kate Moran, a pioneer in technological innovation to support ocean and planet sustainability, is appointed Officer of the Order of Canada. Credit: Ocean Networks Canada

Kate (Kathryn) Moran is a pioneer in technological innovation to support ocean and planet sustainability.

In a career that spans the United States White House through to her current role as President and CEO of Ocean Networks Canada, Kate Moran’s extraordinary contribution has today been recognized with her appointment as Officer of the Order of Canada by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada.

Today’s announcement by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General states Kate Moran is receiving her appointment “for her innovative leadership as a researcher, policy advisor and administrator in ocean engineering and climate action.”

Under Moran’s leadership since 2012, Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), a University of Victoria initiative, has expanded from observing the Salish Sea to operating world-leading observatories on the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic coasts of Canada, delivering globally accessible data that advances scientific discovery, climate solutions, maritime safety and coastal community resiliency.

Dr. Kate Moran’s appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada is a well-deserved acknowledgment of her lifetime contributions to science, both nationally and globally. Under her leadership as President and CEO, Ocean Networks Canada has become a global force in ocean data, helping us to better understand the ocean and its role in mitigating the effects of climate change, which is necessary for our survival.

—Kevin Hall, UVic’s president and vice-chancellor

Dr. Moran first realized the value of support systems for resiliency at age 17 when Hurricane Agnes roared into her Pennsylvania town, Forty Fort, in June 1972, flooding her family home and destroying all their possessions.

“It was a pretty impactful event for me, a lot of people were displaced for a long time, and it caused billions of dollars in damage,” she says. “I saw the importance of government help for recovery, and for alerts and warnings for natural disasters, and we didn’t really have any of that then.”

ONC has developed tsunami, storm-surge and earthquake early-warning systems for the Pacific coast and is now pioneering a geodesy project to measure tectonic plate movement in the ocean. Resilience at the community level is also a priority for Moran’s ONC, which now supports Indigenous Peoples’ ocean science leadership and partnerships on all three coasts of Canada.

ONC’s Queenswood HQ during the current #ONCAbyss summer expedition (June 25-July 18, 2023). (L-R) GIS Specialist Jeff Samson, Data Steward Bahar Torabidavan,  and ONC President and CEO Kate Moran. Credit: Ocean Networks Canada
Dive logging from ONC’s Queenswood HQ during the current #ONCAbyss summer expedition (June 25-July 18, 2023). (L-R) GIS Specialist Jeff Samson, Data Steward Bahar Torabidavan,  and ONC President and CEO Kate Moran. Credit: Ocean Networks Canada

Moran says her experience of co-leading a 2004 expedition of the first scientific drilling in the Arctic Ocean to obtain sediment and rock samples for climate change research was another cornerstone—partly for proving that drilling could occur in the middle of a moving ice-covered ocean, but mostly due to the results of the research.

“We recovered the first paleoclimate record showing that the perennial sea ice that has been in place on the planet for millions of years was going to be gone in a lifetime,” she says. “That’s when I realized how bad climate change was, and today why Ocean Networks Canada is working with partners on new ocean-based solutions for adapting to the current impacts of climate change and for removing carbon from the atmosphere to keep the planet habitable for us, and the world rich in biodiversity.”

Before joining ONC, Moran’s previous appointment was professor and associate dean at the University of Rhode Island (URI). From 2009 to 2011, Moran was seconded to President Obama’s Office of Science and Technology Policy where she served as an assistant director and focused on Arctic, polar, ocean, climate policy, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, where “we stopped the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico,” says Moran.

Kate Moran first moved to Canada in 1982 to take up a job offer with the Geological Survey of Canada’s Atlantic Geoscience Centre at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography after graduating as an ocean engineer from URI. In 1995, she gained her PhD from Dalhousie University and became a Canadian citizen during that period.

“I am honoured to be appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada as this is a wonderful recognition of the work I have been privileged to do and hope to continue. Being responsible for public dollars means you should maximize that investment to the benefit of as many people as possible, and that is where my motivation lies.”

Moran is a registered professional engineer and professor at UVic’s Faculty of Science, a fellow of the Canadian Society of Senior Engineers, a fellow of the Canadian Geographic Society, and was selected as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow for the class of 2022.

The Governor General’s official news release is available here.

A media kit containing high-resolution images is available here.

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Media contacts

Kate Moran (ONC President and CEO) at kmoran@oceannetworks.ca

Robyn Meyer (ONC Communications) at onc-comms@uvic.ca

Kirsten Lauvaas (University Communications + Marketing) at uvicnews@uvic.ca

In this story

Keywords: sustainability, climate, administrative

People: Kate Moran, Kevin Hall

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