Dr. Richard Alley, received the Nobel Peace Prize for work on climate change
Dr. Richard Alley is a Penn State professor, environmental scientist, PBS host, book author, polar ice expert, bicycle enthusiast, geologist, Nobel Prize winner, Johnny Cash impersonator, former oil company employee, and—according to The New York Times’ Andy Revkin—a “cross between [acclaimed Hollywood director] Woody Allen and [late American astronomer] Carl Sagan.”
Richard is an Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences in Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. His research interests focus on glaciology, sea level change and abrupt climate change, and he frequently discusses earth sciences on major media outlets, including NPR, BBC and PBS. He is widely credited with showing that the earth has experienced abrupt climate change in the past—and likely will again, based on his meticulous study of ice cores from Greenland and West Antarctica.
Richard joined the faculty of Penn State in 1988 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1987 and continuing his research for a short time there. In recent years, he served as one of the authors on the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose members shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2008; awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement in 2009; hosted a PBS special on climate change and sustainable energy titled "Earth: The Operators' Manual," authored a companion book of the same name, and received a Heinz Award for being a leader in climate and polar ice studies in 2011; and, most recently, was named one of the inaugural five recipients of the U.S. News & World Reports Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Leadership Hall of Fame awards.
Richard continues to give back to the science community, serving, and having served, on a variety of advisory panels and steering committees for targeted research activities, the National Science Foundation and professional societies including the congressionally mandated Antarctic External Review Panel and the Polar Research Board. He’s also provided advice to numerous U.S. government officials in multiple administrations including a vice president, the president's science adviser, and several committees and individual members of the U. S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Throughout everything, Richard has remained dedicated to educating and truly engaging Penn State students. Case in point: He’s been known to sing about the value of seismology in a parody of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line” and address global warming to the tune of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary.”