Past AAAS President Jane Lubchenco Receives Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication

Marine ecologist Jane Lubchenco, who served as president of AAAS in 1997 and became a AAAS Fellow in 1990, has received the Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication. She is recognized for being an "outstanding environment scientist and an outspoken champion of scientific engagement and communication with policy makers, the media, and the public."

The $15,000 award, announced 16 October by Climate One, a sustainability initiative at The Commonwealth Club, recognizes a natural or social scientist who has made extraordinary scientific contributions and communicated that knowledge to a broad public in a clear and compelling fashion. It honors the memory of one of the founding fathers of climatology, Stephen H. Schneider, who died in 2010.

Jane Lubchenco | NOAA

Lubchenco, former Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and an Oregon State University professor, was lauded by award juror Cristine Russell, a science journalist: "Her leadership in the crucial area of marine ecology and climate made her a perfect choice for the Schneider award," said Russell, a Senior Fellow in the Environment and Natural Resources Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. "She also co-founded three important organizations dedicated to improving science communication and the health of the world's oceans."

With Russell, other jurors for the award were Larry Goulder, economics professor at Stanford University, and Ben Santer, a climate researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "The jurors unanimously decided that Dr. Lubchenco exemplifies the rare ability to be both a superb scientist and powerful communicator in the mold of Stephen Schneider," Climate One reported. The award is underwritten by Tom R. Burns, Nora Machado, Michael Haas, and the ClimateWorks Foundation.

Lubchenco founded the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program in 1998, the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea in 1999, and Climate Central in 2007, Climate One noted. All three organizations focus on helping scientists communicate effectively with non-technical audiences. Her teaching, scientific accomplishments, and work in furthering science communication to the public have garnered many other honors, including 19 honorary doctorates, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, and inclusion in the Women in Science and Technology Hall of Fame.

Her research interests include biodiversity, climate change, the sustainable use of oceans and the planet, and interactions between the environment and human well-being.

Lubchenco was sworn in as the Administrator of NOAA, as well as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans & Atmosphere, in March 2009. During her tenure — which Climate One described as encompassing environmental disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, 770 tornadoes, 70 Atlantic hurricanes/tropical storms including Super Storm Sandy, six major floods, three tsunamis, historic drought and wildfires, prolonged heat waves, and record snowfall/blizzard — NOAA launched the "Weather Ready Nation" initiative to improve on-the-ground responses to extreme water and weather events. NOAA also led federal agency efforts to develop "the most ambitious National Climate Assessment ever conducted," Climate One said. Lubchenco further led NOAA's efforts to create a Scientific Integrity Policy, which forbids the politicization of science and allows NOAA scientists to communicate freely with members of the news media.

"Dr. Lubchenco has emphasized the responsibilities that scientists have to society (their 'social contract') and the importance of effective communication throughout her career," Climate One reported.

She received her B.A. degree in biology from Colorado College in 1969; an M.S. degree in zoology from the University of Washington in 1971; and a Ph.D. in marine ecology from Harvard University in 1975. She has served as a professor at Harvard University, and as the Haas Distinguished Visitor in Public Service at Stanford University. She is currently Distinguished University Professor and Advisor in Marine Studies at Oregon State University.

"Steve Schneider was a pioneer in thinking holistically about the many facets of climate change and in sharing climate science with the world," Lubchenco said. "He made his mark as a courageous scientist who was always open to new information, always eager to learn new tools or disciplines, and always eager to share his knowledge and passions. He not only expanded the frontiers of science, but he thought deeply about what the knowledge meant and the moral responsibilities scientists have to act on that knowledge. It is a deep honor to receive the award that honors and celebrates Steve the scientist, the communicator and the person."

[Source: Climate One]