Kyle Van Houtan

Kyle S. Van Houtan

Chief Scientist

Kyle S. Van Houtan is the Chief Scientist of the Monterey Bay Aquarium where he oversees the Aquarium's research, including programs devoted to sea otters, white sharks and plastic pollution.


“As a child, I was fascinated by the annual migration of birds to the tropics each winter. How could animals so small fly across the world and yet return home to the same tree? Many don’t realize that perhaps the greatest migration happens in the ocean every day as animals move down to the deep during the day and up to the surface at night. Today the ocean captivates my imagination — my goal is to describe and communicate how its fate is tied to ours."

Dr. Van Houtan concurrently holds an adjunct professorship at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and is an adjunct at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). His research explores global change, biodiversity conservation, historical ecology, and ethics. In 2012, he received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Obama for his pioneering research on how climate regulates sea turtle populations.

Dr. Van Houtan earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia, a Master of Science from Stanford University, a Ph.D. from Duke University, and completed postdoctoral research at Emory University. Before joining the Aquarium, he served as a program leader for NOAA in Hawaii where he led initiatives across the Pacific in protected species and climate.

His work has been featured on National Public Radio, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Nature, Science, National Geographic, Wired, Smithsonian, Scientific American, and more. He lives on the Monterey Peninsula with his wife and two children.