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American Association for the Advancement of Science
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BOSTON — The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, has named a pioneering climate scientist from the United Kingdom as winner of the 2007 AAAS International Scientific Cooperation Award.
Robert Watson, chair of environmental science and science director of the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, was cited for his outstanding contributions to promoting international scientific cooperation in scientific research, communication, and training and his work on environmental and sustainable development. Watson also holds the position of chief scientific adviser to the United Kingdom’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Although he has had numerous positions on various scientific committees and panels, Watson is best known internationally for his role in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which he served as chairman from 1997 to 2002. IPCC reports and assessments have changed the way the world looks at climate change and have led to important policy changes on local, regional, national and international levels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
From 1996 to 2007, Watson held various roles at the World Bank, including service as chief scientist and director for environmentally and socially sustainable development. He led the effort to revitalize support for science in the Bank’s program. In line with the Bank’s goal to help countries alleviate poverty and attain sustainability, Watson’s efforts helped strengthen science in developing nations and enhance collaborative activities with other international scientists.
“Dr. Robert Watson has been for a decade the world’s foremost promoter of international scientific cooperation,” wrote John A. Daly, a consultant on issues of technology and science for developing countries, who nominated Watson for the AAAS award. “His efforts chairing panels of thousands of scientists who described and documented our current environmental crisis have been unparalleled and have contributed greatly to the consensus on the nature on that crisis.”
Watson’s expertise includes managing and coordinating national and international environmental and research programs, establishing scientific and environmental policies and communicating scientific, technical and economic information to policymakers. As associate director for international activities in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from July 1993 to April 1996, Watson encouraged the U.S. government to increase its support for international scientific cooperation. Vice President Al Gore described Watson as his “hero of the planet” in a letter written to Watson’s former boss, White House science adviser John H. Gibbons.
During his 13 July 2007 farewell speech at the World Bank, Watson said that one of his most interesting experiences at the Bank was the development of the Clean Energy Investment Framework, which brought together those working with energy and infrastructure and others working with social scientists. He also mentioned the challenge of making sure that environmental policy is based on sound science.
Watson has testified many times before committees and subcommittees of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on ozone, global warming, and other global change research topics. For example, in March 1996 testimony to the House Committee on Science, Watson discussed the effects of human activities on climate and the possible consequences for human health, food security, and ecosystems.
Watson received his bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from London University, London England. He did postdoctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Maryland and held a variety of positions at NASA from 1980 to June 1993 before joining the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in July 1993. Watson is the 1993 recipient of the AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility.
Established in 1992, the AAAS Award for International Scientific Cooperation recognizes an individual or a limited number of individuals for making extraordinary contributions to further international cooperation in science and engineering. Watson will receive a commemorative plaque and a monetary prize of $5,000 on 16 February at the 2008 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science (www.sciencemag.org). AAAS was founded in 1848, and serves 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, reaching 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.
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