NCSE Lifetime Achievement Award for Science, Service, and Leadership

The NCSE Lifetime Achievement Award for Science, Service, and Leadership is given to an individual or group of individuals in recognition of their exceptionally meritorious contribution to science and the environment. The award honors those who have made a significant impact to our community through research, education, diplomacy, and/or innovative technologies. Past recipients include prime ministers, distinguished professors, and renowned scientists. 


2021 Recipients

Christiana Figueres, Founding Partner, Global Optimism; Former Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 

Headshot of Christiana Figueres

Christiana Figueres is a Costa Rican citizen and an internationally recognized leader on climate change. She was Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010 to 2016. During her tenure at the UNFCCC, Figueres brought together national and sub-national governments, corporations, activists, financial institutions, and NGOs to jointly deliver the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, in which 195 sovereign nations agreed on a collaborative path forward to limit future global warming to well below 2°C, and strive for 1.5°C, in order to protect the most vulnerable. For this achievement, Figueres has been credited with forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy and received multiple awards. Since then, Figueres has continued to accelerate the global response to climate change. Today she is the co-founder of Global Optimism, co-host of the podcast “Outrage & Optimism,” and is the co-author of the recently published book, “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis.”

Warren Washington, Distinguished Scholar, National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Photo of Warren Washington

Dr. Warren Washington became one of the first developers of groundbreaking atmospheric computer models in the 1960s. These models, which use fundamental laws of physics to predict future states of the atmosphere, have helped scientists understand climate change and were used extensively in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment, for which National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientists, including Washington, shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Washington has engaged in research for over 50 years, and has given advice, testimony, and lectures on global climate change. Washington has been a member of the President's National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere and has had presidential appointments under the Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush administrations. More recently, he served on the National Science Board as a member (1994-2006) and as its chair (2002-2006). Washington has many awards, including being a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Meteorological Society (former president), the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2010, he was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Obama, the nation's highest science award "for his development and use of global climate models to understand climate and explain the role of human activities and natural processes in the Earth's climate system and for his work to support a diverse science and engineering workforce."



Previous Recipients

2020 Michael M. Crow, President, Arizona State University

Paul Hawken, Founder and Writer, Project Drawdown
Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Former Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature

2018 Edward Mazria, Founder and CEO, Architecture 2030
Robert B. Semple, Jr., Associate Editor of the Editorial Page, The New York Times
2017 Philip Landrigan, Dean for Global Health, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Thomas E. Lovejoy, University Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University
2016 Rita R. Colwell, Distinguished Professor, University of Maryland and Former Director, NSF
Veerabhadran “Ram” Ramanathan, Distinguished Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
2015 Stephen Hubbell, Distinguished Professor, University of California, Los Angeles                                                        
Tom Tidwell,  Deputy Regional Forester for Fire and Aviation Management, Recreation, Engineering, State and Private Forestry

Co-founders, U.S. Global Change Research Program:

Robert Corell, Principal, Global Environment Technology Foundation
J. Michael Hall, Federal Senior Executive Services (Ret.); Former Director, Office of Global Programs, NOAA
Shelby Tilford, Former Chief Scientist, Orbital Sciences Corporation 
Aristides A. N. Patrinos, Deputy Director for Research, Center for Urban Science and Progress, New York University’s Polytechnic Institute
Jack D. Fellows, Director, Climate Change Science Institute, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

2013 Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator, NOAA 
2012 Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and Director-General, World Health Organization
2011 Sylvia Earle, Explorer-in-residence, National Geographic; Founder, Mission Blue; Chairman & CEO, Sylvia Earle Alliance
2010 Herman E. Daly, Vanderbilt University, LSU’s Distinguished Research Master Award Recipient
2009 George Rabb, President Emeritus, Chicago Zoological Society
Peter H. Raven, Director, Missouri Botanical Garden  
Edward O. Wilson, Pellegrino Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University 
2008 Robert W. Corell, Global Change Director, The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment
2007 Theo Colborn, President, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange
Herbert Needleman, Professor of Child Psychiatry and Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
2006 Russell Train, Chairman Emeritus, World Wildlife Fund; First Chair, Council on Environmental Quality; Former Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
2005 William D. Ruckelshaus, First and Fifth Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
2004 Ruth Patrick, Francis Boyer Chair of Limnology, Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia; Adjunct Professor, University of Pennsylvania
M. Gordon “Reds” Wolman, B. Howell Griswold Jr. Professor of Geography and International Affairs, The Johns Hopkins University
2003 Honorable Gaylord Nelson, Former Governor of Wisconsin and U.S. Senator (Ret.); Founder of Earth Day, Counselor of The Wilderness Society
2001 Maurice F. Strong, Senior Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General