Paula Mabee

Chief Scientist and Observatory Director


Observatory Leadership

Contact Info


1685 38th st
Ste 100
Boulder, CO 80301
United States

About Paula

Paula Mabee has served as the Chief Scientist and Observatory Director for the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) since early 2020. She is a Distinguished Emeritus Professor at the University of South Dakota, formerly the Nolop Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of South Dakota, where she served since 1997. She joined the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2015, serving until 2017 as Division Director for the Division of Environmental Biology in the Directorate of Biological Sciences. Prior to 1997, she held assistant and associate professorships at San Diego State University. Mabee holds a BA in Biology and a B.A. in Religion from St. Olaf College, a Ph.D. in Zoology from Duke University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution in the Division of Fishes and a NSF postdoc in developmental biology at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. During her career, Mabee has authored more than 70 research publications, received 12 NSF and NIH research grant awards totaling close to $7 million, and holds numerous editorial and advisory board positions. She was named an AAAS Fellow in 2004 for her fundamental studies in evolutionary and developmental biology. At the University of South Dakota, she received the President’s Award for Research Excellence, the President’s Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Cutler award for teaching excellence. Nationally she has served as the president of the Society of Systematic Biologists, and on governance bodies for other societies including the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology and the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. She was awarded the Joseph S. Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in Ichthyology in 2020 by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.

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Affiliation / Org:

National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)