Santer, an expert in the climate change research community, has worked in the Laboratory's Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) for nearly 20 years, and is a frequent contributor to congressional hearings on the science of climate change. He credits his success to the exceptional scientists he collaborates with at LLNL.
"I never expected to receive the phone call I got at 6 a.m. this morning (Tuesday, May 3)," Santer said. "This is a very humbling occasion. I will do all I can to be worthy of this honor. I will continue trying to do the best science I possibly can; I will continue trying to improve our scientific understanding of the nature and causes of climate change. I will continue trying to explain climate science in plain English; to tell the public and policymakers what we know with confidence, what is still uncertain, and why they should care about what we do and what we have learned."
Santer joins a list of eight current or former employees to be elected to the NAS, including Claire Max, Charles Alcock, Cherry Murray, Robert Laughlin, Harold Brown, Berni Alder, Edward Teller and E.O. Lawrence. He is one of the 72 new members and 18 foreign associates elected to the National Academy of Sciences this year in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. The new members bring the total number of active academy members to 2,113 and the total number of foreign associates to 418.
In addition to his recent election to NAS, Santer is the recipient of the MacArthur "genius" grant; an E.O. Lawrence Award; a Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Distinguished Scientist Fellowship; contributor to all four assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an organization that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore; and an American Geophysical Union fellowship.
"We are defined by our humanity -- not by awards received, or the number of letters before or after our name," Santer said. "The real award (and reward) of my scientific career is that I've made many close friends along my strange, multi-decadal trajectory through the world of climate science. It has been a great privilege to work with (and learn from) my colleagues and friends at PCMDI, LLNL, and other research institutions around the world."
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is an honor society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare.
The academy is composed of approximately 2,100 members and 400 foreign associates, of whom nearly 200 have won Nobel Prizes. Members and foreign associates of the academy are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research; election to the academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a scientist or engineer.