AAAS Award for Public Engagement with Science
formerly “AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology”
2012 Award Recipient
Dr. Alley has worked over decades to excite the public, policymakers, teachers, and students by effectively communicating cutting-edge climate science using a wide range of approaches.
He has provided advice and scientific information on climate change to the White House and to policymakers through briefings, testimony, fact-finding trips, and written materials. He participated in the Nobel- Peace-Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; served as chair of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Committee on Abrupt Climate Change, lead author of the Climate Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Report on Arctic paleoclimates, a member of the Polar Research Board, and chair of a committee on a redesign of the climate change exhibit at the Marion Koshland Science Museum.
In 2012, Dr. Alley’s popular book Earth: The Operators’ Manual became a PBS documentary, which presented “…an objective, accessible assessment of the Earth’s problems and possibilities…” to inform and energize viewers. Dr. Alley himself has appeared in over a dozen science documentaries on NOVA, Discovery, the History Channel, and BBC, and he regularly gives lectures to peers as well as to elementary-school classes, scout dens, and Sunday schools.
Helping the press “get it right” is another top priority. Reporters often count on Dr. Alley to provide background, context, and other information on the scientific topics they cover. His own articles appear in refereed journals, newspapers, and magazines, and he can be heard on NPR, Radio Free Europe, and the Voice of America.
Alley has also been recognized for his innovative teaching methods at Pennsylvania State University. He has traveled to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the top of Mesa Verde with his earth science students to make educational materials. A public-broadcasting film crew accompanied them, resulting in an Emmy-winning film, along with other education materials that are freely available to the public.
In addition to his dedication to communicating accurate science in a way that will do the most good, Dr. Alley is an exemplary researcher who has conducted more than a dozen field expeditions to the world’s great ice sheets and glaciers. He has authored or coauthored over 200 scientific papers and been cited more than 10,000 times in refereed literature.
Dr. Alley is a member of the NAS and has received numerous awards for his research, including the $100,000 Heinz Award in 2012 for leadership in climate and polar ice studies. He was also inducted into the U.S. News and World Reports STEM Leadership Hall of Fame last year.
The AAAS Award for Public Engagement with Science, formerly the Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology, was established in 1987 and recognizes working scientists and engineers who make outstanding contributions to the “popularization of science.” Recipients receive $5,000 and a commemorative plaque.