Awarded to leaders whose work has advanced understanding and appreciation of the value of Earth and space science to society.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
A graduate of Yale University and the University of Virginia School of Law, Sheldon served as Rhode Island’s Director of Business Regulation under Governor Sundlun before being recommended by Senator Pell and nominated by President Bill Clinton to be Rhode Island’s United States Attorney in 1994. He was elected Attorney General of Rhode Island in 1998, a position in which he served until 2003. On November 7, 2006, Rhode Islanders elected Sheldon to the United States Senate, where he is a member of the Budget Committee; the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW); the Judiciary Committee; and the Finance Committee. He has spent his political career focused on issues like STEM education and climate change. He is being awarded the AGU Presidential Citation for his tireless efforts to elevate the issue of climate change on the U.S. national stage through legislation as well as weekly floor speeches on the issue.
Senator Barbara Mikulski
A leader in the Senate, Mikulski represents the state of Maryland and serves as chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as well as chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, which oversees funding for the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). On 17 March 2012 she became the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress. Her first election was a successful run for Baltimore City Council in 1971, where she served for five years. In 1976, she ran for Congress and won, representing Maryland’s 3rd district for 10 years. In 1986, she ran for Senate and won, becoming the first Democratic woman Senator elected in her own right. She was re-elected with large majorities in 1992, 1998, 2004, and 2010. Senator Mikulski represents a state that is home to NASA, NOAA and National Institutes of Health (NIH) offices, and has fought for science and innovation by promoting investments in science programs and working to increase the number of students, women, and under-represented groups choosing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
Oreskes is professor of the history of science and affiliated professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University, and an internationally renowned geologist, science historian, and author. She is the author of numerous books and articles on the history of earth and environmental science, including The Rejection of Continental Drift (Oxford, 1999) and Plate Tectonics: An Insider’s History of the Modern Theory of the Earth (Westview, 2003). For the past decade, Oreskes has been primarily interested in the problem of anthropogenic climate change. Her 2004 essay “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” (Science 306: 1686) has been widely cited, both in the United States and abroad, and her opinion pieces have appeared in many venues, including The Times (London), The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Nature, Science, The New Statesman, and Frankfurter Allgemeine. Her 2010 book, “Merchants of Doubt, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco to Global Warming,” co-authored with Erik M. Conway, was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her current research projects include completion of a book on the history of Cold War Oceanography, “Science on a Mission: American Oceanography in the Cold War and Beyond” (Chicago, forthcoming), and “Assessing Assessments: A Historical and Philosophical Study of Scientific Assessments for Environmental Policy in the Late 20th Century,” funded by the National Science Foundation. She has lectured widely and has won numerous prizes, including the 2011 Climate Change Communicator of the Year.
Scott, a former university professor, served as the executive director of National Center for Science Education (NCSE) from 1987 to 2014. She now serves as the chair of NCSE’s Advisory Council. Scott has been both a researcher and an activist in the creationism/evolution controversy for more than twenty-five years. She has received national recognition for her NCSE activities, including awards from scientific societies, educational societies, skeptics groups, and humanist groups. She holds nine honorary degrees, from McGill, Rutgers, Mt. Holyoke, the University of New Mexico, Ohio State, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Colorado College, the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Chapman University. Scott is the author of Evolution vs Creationism and co-editor, with Glenn Branch, of Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools.
Recognized as a leader in photographing and interpreting the natural environment, Balog founded and directed the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) to document the impact of climate change through a photographic survey of glaciers. This led to the award-winning documentary, Chasing Ice, which was released in 2012. An avid mountaineer with a graduate degree in geography and geomorphology, Balog, is passionate about combining art and science to study the changes in nature, as well as communicating both verbally and visually, the impacts to the public. He is the author of eight books, numerous recognitions and awards, and his work is in dozens of public and private art collections.
As an award winning journalist and correspondent for NPR, Harris has brought science into the homes of millions of people through his unbiased reporting. Over his career as a journalist, Harris has covered almost all aspects of science, from cell biology to planetary science. His stories have included coverage of important public safety issues such as earthquakes as well as devastating tsunamis. For decades, Harris has closely followed the evolving story of climate change. His reporting on that subject led him to Antarctica; the Greenland Summit; the Arctic Ocean; the Great Barrier Reef and West Africa; and all the U.N. climate talks since Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Harris continues to give back to the science writing community and is a co-founder of the DC –area Science Writers Association.
Representative Rush Holt
As a scientist and long-time public servant, Congressman Holt is an active member of Congress working to promote STEM education, science, and long-term strategies for a sustainable environment. He serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Natural Resources and has helped secure more than $700 million in new federal funding for science and technology research. Though his efforts to create jobs and support innovation, the Congressman applies scientific thinking to some difficult policy challenges. He started the Einstein’s Alley initiative, which seeks to expand and maintain jobs in New Jersey by attracting and supporting innovative companies. Congressman Holt has represented Central New Jersey in Congress since 1999 and has a Ph.D. in Physics.
Phil Keslin who led the development of the Earthviewer application, accepted the award on behalf of Google Earth. Phil currently serves as the chief technology officer for a small mobile application startup lab within Google that is exploring the convergence of mobile technology, geospatial information, and social networking. The founders of Google Earth have demonstrated great vision in the development of their software, and Google Earth has made vividly clear the real-world applications and benefits of Earth and space science for communities and individuals.
Dr. Jane Lubchenco
Under Dr. Lubchenco’s leadership, NOAA has focused on restoring oceans and coasts, ensuring continuity of the nation’s weather and other environmental satellites, promoting climate science and delivering quality climate products, and strengthening science and ensuring scientific integrity. A marine ecologist and environmental scientist, she has served as president of the American Association for Advancement of Science, the International Council for Science, and the Ecological Society of America. Lubchenco is the co-founder of The Leopold Leadership Program, the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea (COMPASS), and Climate Central, which aim to communicate scientific knowledge to the public, policy makers, media, and industry.
Senator Olympia Snowe
Senator Snowe has recognized and elevated “the scientific community’s calls to action” to address human-caused climate change; has expressed concern over the dangers posed by climate change and by ocean acidification; and has called upon Congress to enact legislation that supports scientific research, addresses the consequences of climate change, and regulates the emissions of heat-trapping gases. She is the senior Senator from Maine and was the second woman Senator in history to represent the state. Before her election to the Senate, Senator Snowe represented Maine’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for 16 years.