Public Release: 

Career diplomat Thomas Pickering wins 2008 AAAS International Scientific Cooperation Award

American Association for the Advancement of Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society, has named a career diplomat and distinguished ambassador as winner of the 2008 AAAS International Scientific Cooperation Award.

Ambassador Thomas Pickering was honored "for his extraordinary contributions to science and technology in U.S. foreign policy," AAAS announced. Pickering held the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the U.S. Foreign Service. He also currently serves as vice chairman of Hills and Company, an international consulting firm providing advice to U.S. businesses on investment, trade and risk assessment issues abroad, particularly in emerging market economies.

Ambassador Pickering's career has spanned five decades as a U.S. diplomat, serving as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, Nigeria, Jordan and El Salvador. He has held numerous other positions in the State Department, including Executive Secretary and Special Assistant to Secretaries Rogers and Kissinger and Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Oceans, and International Environmental and Scientific (OES) Affairs.

During his career in U.S. missions abroad, Ambassador Pickering extended the traditional responsibilities of environment, science and technology (EST) officers to include coordination with other elements of the embassy's overall mission. He further supported the establishment of bilateral science and technology agreements as instruments to strengthen diplomatic relations. Ambassador Pickering clearly recognized that these mechanisms served to facilitate the exchange of ideas and expertise that support the interests of all parties, domestic and foreign, said Vaughan Turekian, chief international officer for AAAS.

As OES Assistant Secretary, Ambassador Pickering brought science and technology to the forefront of U.S. diplomacy. He brought global attention to issues associated with nuclear affairs, oceans and fisheries management, global environmental stewardship, and strengthening bilateral scientific and technological collaboration across a range of disciplines and in support of the missions of numerous U.S. agencies. Today, he remains a vocal advocate for science within the State Department.

Ambassador Pickering has received numerous awards and accolades for his contributions to science and technology as well as U.S. diplomacy. In 1984 and 1986, he received the Distinguished Presidential Award. In 1996, Ambassador Pickering received the Distinguished Service Award, the Department of State's highest award. In honor of his contributions to U.S. diplomacy, the State Department established the Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship program. The program offers undergraduate fellowships to students who plan to pursue Foreign Service careers with the U.S. Department of State. Ambassador Pickering continues to serve on committees and boards that bring science and technology together with foreign policy interests.

Ambassador Pickering retired in 2006 as Senior Vice President of International Relations for Boeing. Prior to joining Boeing, he served as President of the Eurasia Foundation.

He received is bachelor's degree, cum laude, with high honors in history, from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine in 1953. In 1954, he received his master's degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the University of Melbourne in Australia, and he received a second master's degree in 1956. In 1984, he was awarded an honorary doctor-in-laws degree from Bowdoin College, and he has received similar honors from 12 other universities. He entered in active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1956-1959, and later served in the Naval Reserve, reaching the grade of Lieutenant Commander.

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. Ambassador Pickering will receive a commemorative plaque and a monetary prize of $5,000 during the 175th AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, which will take place 12-16 February 2009. The awards ceremony and reception will be held at The Fairmont Chicago on Saturday, 14 February at 5:00 p.m.


The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science ( 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 ( 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!,, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

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