MONTEREY, Calif. -

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has hired one of President Barack Obama's science officials to serve as the director of conservation research and chief scientist.

Dr. Brendan P. Kelly currently serves as assistant director for polar sciences in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

At the aquarium, Kelly will manage, coordinate and strengthen science programs and partnerships. That includes conservation research focused on sea otters, great white sharks and Pacific bluefin tuna, among other species.

Kelly holds an undergraduate degree in biology from UC Santa Cruz, a master's degree from the University of Alaska and a doctorate degree from Purdue University.

He's previously served as  deputy director of the Arctic division of the National Science Foundation, and as a research scientist at NOAA’s National Marine Mammal Laboratory, among other positions.