American Geophysical Union Celebrates Leaders for Contributions to Policy and Public Awareness

8 May 2014


Washington, D.C. – In recognition of their leadership and vision in shaping policy and heightening public awareness of the value of Earth and space science, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) has chosen Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Dr. Naomi Oreskes, a science historian and author of the book “Merchants of Doubt,” and Dr. Eugenie Scott, former executive director for the National Center for Science Education, as the 2014 AGU Presidential Citation for Science and Society recipients. The awards will be presented during the AGU 2014 Science Policy Conference at a Capitol Hill reception on Tuesday, 17 June at 5:30 p.m.

“The answers to many of the greatest challenges we face today, from public health and safety to economic and national security, are rooted in scientific innovation. And while history has shown us that scientific and societal advancements go hand in hand, neither can be accomplished without the dedication of those who are willing to embrace the power of science and its role in informing our personal and policy decisions,” said Carol Finn, president of the American Geophysical Union. “Through their leadership, commitment, and enthusiasm, Senator Mikulski, Dr. Oreskes, and Dr. Scott have demonstrated the crucial role science can play in protecting public health and safety, connecting humans to their environment and promoting economic growth. They are role models for us all, and I sincerely thank them for their efforts.”

“As scientists, we all understand that if we want our work to count as scientific knowledge, it has to be published in the scientific literature. Increasingly, we’ve come to understand that if we want it to count as public knowledge, we have to communicate it in the public sphere, as well. And we have to do it, because there isn’t anyone else ‘out there’ to do it for us,” said Oreskes.

Scott noted, “I am honored indeed to receive this award from the AGU, which has long been a valued ally in the struggle to ensure good science is taught in our schools. And it is humbling to be in the company of Sen. Mikulski and Dr. Oreskes, both of whom I have great admiration for.”

The AGU Science Policy Conference is held annually in Washington, D.C., and brings together scientists, policymakers, industry professionals, and other stakeholders to discuss Earth and space science policy issues that impact the U.S. economy, national security, environment, and public safety. The conference will take place 16 – 18 June at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. For more information about the conference, speakers and other special events, please visit spc.agu.org.

2014 AGU Presidential Citation for Science and Society Recipients

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.): 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.

Dr. Naomi Oreskes: 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.

Dr. Eugenie Scott: 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.

The American Geophysical Union is dedicated to advancing the Earth and space sciences for the benefit of humanity through its scholarly publications, conferences, and outreach programs. AGU is a not-for-profit, professional, scientific organization representing more than 62,000 members in 142 countries. Join our conversation on FacebookTwitter, YouTube, and other social media channels.


AGU Contact:

Joan Buhrman, 202-777-7509, jbuhrman@agu.org