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Richard B. Alley

Richard B. Alley
Richard B. Alley

The 2006 Louis Agassiz Medal is awarded to Richard B. Alley for his outstanding and sustained contribution to glaciology and for his effective communication of important scientific issues in the public policy arena.

Professor Richard B. Alley is one of the genuinely catalytic scientists of the glaciological universe. He leads the discipline in the creation of new knowledge and, arguably, has transformed the face of glaciology for his generation of scientists. One of his lasting contributions is to consummate the greatly desired union of glaciology with climate science and, by doing so, to raise the stature of glaciology within the entire scientific community. In the 1960s, when the influence of John Nye’s monumental contributions were near their zenith, it would have been difficult to conceive that glaciological science would, or even could, become the standard fare of Nature and Science or provide headlines for the world’s leading newspapers? Richard B. Alley did not do this single-handed but he has admirably demonstrated how it is accomplished and, by doing so, has helped to lead the Cryosciences to very high ground further endorsing their credibility, relevance and stature.

Not only is Richard B. Alley one of glaciology’s leading scientists he is also a high-profile public citizen, engagingly, effectively and tirelessly communicating with both the lay public and decision-makers. He is imaginative, sharp and humorous, and remains a thorn in the backside of the Bush administration.

There are few better persons upon whom to bestow the Agassiz Medal. As the first recipient, Richard B. Alley’s name would top the list for all time and he is one of the very few members of the community whose scientific reputation, like that of Agassiz, is likely to outlive him.