Molly K. Macauley, a vice president for research at Resources for the Future, a Washington-based think tank that studies environmental and economic policy, died July 8 in Baltimore. She was 59.
She was stabbed while walking her dogs near her home in Baltimore’s Roland Park neighborhood and was taken to a nearby hospital, where she died. According to the Baltimore Sun newspaper, it was the first homicide in the upscale neighborhood since 1998.
“Homicide detectives are continuing to investigate this case,” Baltimore police spokesman Jeremy Silbert told the Sun.
Dr. Macauley was considered a national leader in the field of environmental economics and helped lead research projects on space, renewable energy, new technologies and natural resources. After joining Resources for the Future in 1983, she developed a specialty in linking economics with space science. Her scholarly interests extended to space stations and eliminating debris in space, as well as commercial opportunities associated with space travel.
The co-author of dozens of research papers and several books, Dr. Macauley testified before Congress, spoke at leading colleges and research institutions, and appeared before various organizations affiliated with the United Nations.
Over the years, she served on more than 20 committees of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, as well as advisory boards of NASA and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
William H. Hooke, associate executive director of the American Meteorological Society, wrote in a blog post that Dr. Macauley was known for finding a middle path between disputed scientific views.
“Sooner or later the belligerents would pause for breath and she’d then quietly and gently introduce a synthesis of what had been said,” Hooke wrote. “At one and the same time her counsel would draw the disagreement to a positive and brilliant close and leave the disputants a bit shamefaced. She could do this in any setting with a consistency and moral effect that was a marvel to watch.”
Molly Kenna Macauley was born June 10, 1957, in Richmond. Her father was a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service.
She grew up mostly in Northern Virginia and was a 1975 graduate of Falls Church High School. She graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1979 and received master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from Johns Hopkins University in 1981 and 1983, respectively. She was a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins from 1989 to 2008.
Friends and colleagues said she was driven to succeed from an early age.
“She was a very sort of pure and loving person who was dedicated to a passion in her life, and that was making the world a better place,” a cousin, Tom Geyer, told the Sun.
Dr. Macauley was named a senior fellow at Resources for the Future in 1993 and later spent 14 years as director of academic relations and programs. She had been vice president for research since 2011.
Dr. Macauley became a Christian Scientist when she was 12 and was a member of a Christian Science congregation in Baltimore.
Her husband of four years, Will Sheppard, died in 2003.
Survivors include her partner of 12 years, Lee Lasky of Baltimore.
Frederick N. Rasmussen of the Baltimore Sun contributed to this report.