Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences, is an atmospheric scientist whose research in atmospheric chemistry and climate change has involved him in shaping science and environmental policy at the highest levels nationally and internationally.
His research was recognized on the citation for the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded to University of California, Irvine colleague F. Sherwood Rowland. The Franklin Institute recognized Dr. Cicerone’s fundamental contributions to the understanding of greenhouse gases and ozone depletion by selecting him as the 1999 laureate for the Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science. One of the most prestigious American awards in science, the Bower also recognized his public policy leadership in protecting the global environment. In 2001, he led a National Academy of Sciences study of the current state of climate change and its impact on the environment and human health, requested by President Bush. The American Geophysical Union awarded him its 2002 Roger Revelle Medal for outstanding research contributions to the understanding of Earth’s atmospheric processes, biogeochemical cycles, or other key elements of the climate system. In 2004, the World Cultural Council honored him with another of the scientific community’s most distinguished awards, the Albert Einstein World Award in Science.
During his early career at the University of Michigan, Dr. Cicerone was a research scientist and held faculty positions in electrical and computer engineering. In 1978 he joined the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego as a research chemist. From 1980 to 1989, he was a senior scientist and director of the atmospheric chemistry division at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. In 1989 he was appointed the Daniel G. Aldrich Professor of Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine and chaired the department of earth system science from 1989 to 1994. While serving as dean of physical sciences for the next four years, he brought outstanding faculty to the school and strengthened its curriculum and outreach programs. Prior to his election as Academy president, Dr. Cicerone was the chancellor of the University of California, Irvine from 1998 to 2005.
Dr. Cicerone is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He has served as president of the American Geophysical Union, the world's largest society of earth scientists, and he received its James B. Macelwane Award in 1979 for outstanding contributions to geophysics. He has published about 100 refereed papers and 200 conference papers, and has presented invited testimony to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on a number of occasions.
Dr. Cicerone received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was a varsity baseball player. Both his master's and doctoral degrees are from the University of Illinois in electrical engineering, with a minor in physics.