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Molly Macauley, Renowned Space Economist, Killed While Walking Her Dogs - UPDATE 2

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 09-Jul-2016
Updated: 12-Jul-2016 09:28 PM

Molly Macauley, one of the few economists specializing in satellites and the space program generally, was murdered last night (July 8) while walking her dogs near her home in Baltimore, MD.  She was 59.

According to the July 9 Baltimore Sun, she was stabbed to death while walking her two dogs in the Roland Park neighborhood in Baltimore.  No suspects have been identified. [The Baltimore Sun published an updated article on July 11 with a few more details, but there is still no suspect or motive.  Funeral arrangements have not been announced yet.] [Update July 12:  Funeral arrangements are not yet confirmed, but Resources for the Future, where Molly worked for more than 30 years, will hold a memorial service in September.  Details TBA.]

Macauley was a valued member of the space policy community for decades and renowned for her expertise on the economics of satellites, especially in the earth observation arena. Her professional portfolio was much broader, however, including the use of economic incentives in environmental regulation, climate and earth science, and recycling and solid waste management.  She testified before Congress many times and was the author of more than 80 journal articles, books, and book chapters.

She was Vice President for Research and a Senior Fellow at Resources for the Future, a Washington-based think tank that focuses on the economics of natural resources.  She was a past member of the Space Studies Board (SSB) and of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and served on many of its study committees.  She was a member of the steering committee for the ongoing Decadal Survey for Earth Science and Applications from Space at the time of her death.


Molly Macauley.  Photo Credit:  Resources for the Future Website

Michael Moloney, Director for Space and Aeronautics at the Academies, told SpacePolicyOnline.com that Macauley was a "tremendous supporter" of the role that the Academies play in providing advice to the federal government and volunteered "many, many hours" on study committees covering topics "as diverse as the challenge of orbital debris and the future of our global Earth observation system."    "She was a friend to everyone who served with her and the Academies staff and volunteers valued her expertise and quiet wisdom.  She will be terribly missed."

Charlie Kennel, who chaired the SSB while Macauley was a member, said that she "brought us the human perspective.  She worked hard to connect with our science and technology so that we would always keep human values in mind.  She was soft-spoken, always calm, insightful, and withal unusually persuasive.  You remembered what she said.  Molly did not deserve this, her friends and colleagues do not deserve this, the world does not deserve this."  Kennel is a former NASA associate administrator for Mission to Planet Earth, a former director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and is currently a professor emeritus at Scripps and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Science and Policy at the University of Cambridge.

Scott Pace, Director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, said "her loss is a loss to all of us, whether family and friends, colleagues, or the community in which she lived."  In an email, Pace characterized her as "an incredibly intelligent, energetic, and caring person who brought both warmth and rigor to her profession and the space community. ...  She combined high personal standards with a willingness to mentor and care for others that is often too rare."

Macauley received her B.A. in economics from the College of William and Mary in 1979, and a Master's and Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University in 1981 and 1983 respectively.   In addition to her work at RFF, she was an Adjunct Professor of economics at Johns Hopkins.

Note:  This article was updated on July 9 with the comments from Dr. Kennel and on July 11 with a link to that day's Baltimore Sun article.


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