Woodwell’s Dr. John Holdren to receive NAS Public Welfare Medal

The National Academy of Sciences most prestigious award recognizes “extraordinary use of science for the public good.”

John Holdren and Arctic Circle 2017

Arctic Circle, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) announced Wednesday that it will present its 2022 Public Welfare Medal to Dr. John Holdren, president emeritus and senior advisor to the president of Woodwell Climate, in recognition of his long-running service to science, particularly his role as science advisor to former US President Barack Obama. This is the National Academy’s most prestigious award, honoring “extraordinary use of science for the public good.” Previous recipients include Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Norman Borlaug, Bill and Melinda Gates, Alan Alda, and Carl Sagan.

Our most heartfelt congratulations to John. It is a well-deserved honor—the latest in a long list. He holds seven honorary doctorates. He was an early recipient of the MacArthur Fellowships in 1981, chaired the executive committee of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the group in 1995, sat on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology under President Bill Clinton, and served as president of American Association for the Advancement of Science. He holds the distinction of being the longest-serving presidential science advisor since World War II. To name only a few highlights.

The National Academy’s announcement notes that, as President Obama’s science advisor, John “helped coordinate U.S. responses to the H1N1 flu and Ebola outbreaks, the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, and the Fukushima nuclear disaster.” He was also instrumental in shaping the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan.

John served as President and Executive Director of Woodwell Climate Research Center (then Woods Hole Research Center) prior to joining the Obama administration. He continues to serve as Senior Advisor to the President of Woodwell Climate, is a research professor in Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and co-directs the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program in the School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. The Belfer Center’s Arctic Initiative works in close collaboration with Woodwell’s Arctic Program to elevate policy issues related to ongoing, rapid Arctic change.

Putting science to work for the greater good is Woodwell Climate’s mission, and John exemplifies it. The Public Welfare Medal will be presented on May 1 during the Academy’s 159th annual meeting. We will all be celebrating with John in spirit, if not in person.