Nancy Knowlton received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She was a professor at Yale University before moving to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and later joining the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Currently, she is the Sant Chair in Marine Science at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Knowlton’s research interests lie in determining the biodiversity of coral reefs and in protecting these fragile habitats. She founded the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and she is a leader of the Census for Marine Life. Her pioneering work has been recognized with numerous honors and awards.