In 2011 Muir College inaugurated a new tradition to honor the legacy of the college’s namesake, John Muir. Each year, the college names as Muir Environmental Fellows a selected group of individuals affiliated with UC San Diego (faculty, staff, or alumni) whose work has contributed significantly to the cause of sustainability and environmental preservation. New fellows are invited to accept their awards and speak briefly at the college’s annual organic lunch during Earth Week, on or close to John Muir’s birthday, April 21. Each is presented with a plaque and honored with a certificate summarizing his or her achievements to be permanently displayed in Muir’s Mandeville Suite at the top of Tioga Hall.
Muir Environmental Fellows for 2012 were honored at the college’s annual John Muir Week lunch on April 19. Seventy-five students, faculty, and staff were present in the Forum Room at the Price Center as the new Fellows accepted their awards and spoke about the importance of working to solve today’s most pressing environmental problems.
Charles F. Kennel, Professor Emeritus and former Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences, Scripps Institute of Oceanography (SIO), is a strong believer in the promise of a sustainable future. UC San Diego’s progress towards becoming a national and international leader in environmental research, education, and public outreach owes much to his efforts at the early stages of this process. As Founding Director of UCSD’s Environment and Sustainability Initiative (ESI) (since renamed the Sustainability Solutions Institute), he led the first major interdisciplinary initiative to connect researchers, educators, and managers across the campus with each other and with the community to develop practical solutions to local, national, and global environmental problems. At SIO, Kennel supported the creation of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation , a center of interdisciplinary cooperation in research and educationwhich seeks technically advanced strategies to prevent and reverse biodiversity collapse. His long and notable research and teaching career involving global environmental science, science policy, astrophysics, space plasma physics, and earth observations, has been recognized with many awards and honors, among them a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, and NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal.
Naomi Oreskes, Professor of History and Science Studies at UC San Diego, has been a fighter for many years on the frontlines of the scientific debate over climate change. In 2011, she was named Climate Change Communicator of the Year in recognition of her award-winning book Merchants of Doubt, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco to Global Warming (co-authored with Erik M. Conway). Her publications on this topic have been widely cited, not only in the scientific literature, but in popular vehicles such as Al Gore’s Academy Award winning film, An Inconvenient Truth. She has testified about distortions of climate change research before the U.S. Congress and written powerful op-eds for publications such as The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Times of London, Nature, and Science. She has also worked hard to bring the issue of climate change to UCSD students. As Provost of Sixth College, she secured a $150,000 Global Climate Change Education grant from NASA to develop a freshman course sequence titled, "Climate, Technology, and Culture.”
Kimberly Prather, Distinguished Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry at UC San Diego, is an internationally recognized scientist who takes her innovative research on aerosols and their impact on the environment outside the lab to school children in San Diego and to the community more broadly. Affiliated with both the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and SIO’s Center for Atmospheric Sciences, Prather is a founder and Director of the Center for Aerosol Impacts on Climate and Environment (CAICE). Through standing partnerships that she has established with local schools such as Castle Park High School in Chula Vista and Paul Ecke Elementary School in Encinitas, she and her research group bring their instruments to K-12 classrooms to educate students about pollution and climate change and to encourage them to consider careers in science. No less committed to education at UCSD, Prather is an excellent teacher who was nominated by her students in 2009 for the UCSD Faculty Sustainability Award in recognition of her teaching which encourages students to apply the principles of air pollution, climate, and health to real world experience.
For many years, Lisa Shaffer has been a principal moving force in sustainability efforts at UC San Diego and in San Diego at large. Among a long list of awards and honors, she has been presented with the UCSD Sustainability Award; the City of San Diego Climate Champion Award; and NASA’s Exceptional Service and, Special Service medals. She has served as a board member of the Kids-vs.-Global-Warming and iMatter March; as a member of the Board of Directors for the California Center for Sustainable Energy; and for years, as the Executive Director of the Environment and Sustainability Initiative at UCSD, forerunner of the Sustainability Solutions Institute. At the Rady School of Management, Shafer teaches courses such as Corporate Ethics and Social Responsibility and serves as a resource for sustainability and green job-related outreach. She also teaches a graduate seminar at IRPS on Corporate Strategy and the Environment.
Kim Stanley Robinson’s distinguished career demonstrates how the creativity of science fiction writing can be enlisted to raise awareness about environmental issues and stimulate new ways of thinking about the environmental problems of the future. His novels have won eleven major awards including two Hugo Awards for Best Novel with Green Mars and Blue Mars; the Nebula Award for Best Novel with Red Mars; the Nebula Award for Best Novella with The Blind Geometer ; and six Locus Awards for various works. Virtually all Robinson's novels have an environmental component, and sustainability is one of his primary themes, along with global climate instability and the ways in which technology intersects with the natural world. He received his B.A. from UCSD and John Muir College in 1974 and his Ph.D. from UCSD’s Department of Literature in 1982. As an alumnus, he is generous with his time, returning often to campus to talk about the environment with students, including students in Muir’s Wilderness and Human Values class, and brought the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop to UCSD.
Paul Dayton is an internationally recognized ocean scientist who has dedicated himself to the cause of environmental conservation and education throughout his 35-year career at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He has researched coastal habitats in California, Antarctica, and elsewhere to better understand naturally functioning marine ecosystems and documented the environmental impacts of overfishing and natural phenomena such as El Niño. He is the only person to win both the George Mercer Award and the WS Cooper Award from the Ecological Society of America, and in 2006 was the first recipient of the Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology and Environmental Sciences, awarded by a jury of scientists representing Catalonia, the European Union, and the international ecology community. Dayton has been director of The Ocean Conservancy and the National Research Council Panel on Marine Protected Areas, and is a frequent contributor to Science magazine.