About Us

For the Love of The Ocean

Sarah Cooley

Director, Ocean Acidification Program

Washington, D.C.

Areas of Expertise

  • Ocean acidification
  • Oceanography
  • Science communication
  • Global carbon cycle
  • Climate change

Chemistry has always just made sense to Sarah. Atoms fit together like building blocks, and then they make something new. But spending her life in a laboratory surrounded by bubbling mixtures didn’t appeal. She’d rather be on a boat, or maybe, writing a book. One day, Sarah realized that the ocean was full of chemicals, both natural and man-made, and there was still a whole lot left to learn about Earth’s final frontier. She went to graduate school to become an ocean carbon cycle expert. Along the way, she learned how to talk to people about science and found she had a knack for making ocean issues clear to all types of people.

After spending several years as an ocean carbon cycle researcher, mostly at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod (“the oceanographic institution on the mainland,” to the Jaws fans out there), Sarah wanted a chance to work at the border between science and policy. Instead of doing scientific research and hoping someone would pick it up and use it, she wanted to help bring new science directly into policy that would create action and positive change for the ocean. So she moved to Ocean Conservancy, where she does that work every day. She also gets to write about science and decode its mysteries for people who don’t see the secret logic of chemistry the same way she does.


  • Ph.D., Marine Science, University of Georgia, 2006
  • B.S., Chemistry, Haverford College, 1999

My Favorite Thing About the Ocean

I’ve always loved the fat glassy look of breaking waves and the different colors hiding in them. When I was a kid I would try to catch waves and water droplets in my hands without breaking up their rounded shapes. Didn’t work, but it kept me busy trying.

“As a university researcher, I got frustrated at how slowly new science worked its way into decisions that affect the ocean. But, for many ocean issues like climate change and ocean acidification, we haven’t got time to waste. I’m here because I can help catalyze getting new knowledge into smart ocean policy, and that makes a difference every day.”



  • Sarah Cooley