Ralph J. Cicerone

President of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the National Research Council


Ralph J. Cicerone. Atmospheric scientist. Leader in the study of climate change. Educator to the nation and the world. You are a pioneering researcher of ozone depletion, and your understanding of how industrial emissions damage the Earth’s ozone layer has made yours a powerful voice in the worldwide discussion of climate change. You were educated at MIT and the University of Illinois, and your academic career took you to the University of Michigan, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the University of California, Irvine, where you founded the Earth system science department and were chancellor. You served as editor in chief of The Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospherics, as a reviewing editor of Science magazine, and as president of the American Geophysical Union. You are now president of the National Academy of Sciences, the premier private, nonprofit society of distinguished scholars, where you shape science and environmental policy worldwide. You also chair the National Research Council as it tackles the most significant issues affecting the health, education, and welfare of all Americans. You earned the Franklin Institute’s Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science, the American Geophysical Union’s Macelwane Medal and Revelle Medal, and the 2004 Albert Einstein World Award in Science. You have said that, for you, ozone research presented a “new field where almost anything you would learn was a discovery,” and that spirit of inquiry, coupled with your unique ability to focus attention on climate change in ways that enhance international discourse, earned you enduring admiration and respect among your colleagues in science, education, and government.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Ralph J. Cicerone, the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma which I place in your hand are visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you entitled.

Conferred May 20, 2012

Ralph J. Cicerone has shaped national and international science and environmental policy. His research focuses on atmospheric chemistry, radiative forcing of climate change resulting from trace gases, and sources of atmospheric methane, nitrous oxide, and methyl halide. He received the 1999 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science from the Franklin Institute, the 1979 Macelwane Medal and 2002 Revelle Medal from the American Geophysical Union, and the 2004 Albert Einstein World Award in Science. He earned his bachelor¹s degree at MIT and his master¹s and Ph.D. in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He served as chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, 1998-2005.

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