Robert Socolow, a pioneering researcher in climate solutions and professor emeritus of mechanical and aerospace engineering, is a recipient of the 2023 John Scott Award, the oldest science award in the United States.

Recognizing the growing urgency of climate change, organizers chose to bestow this year’s award on Socolow and Michael Mann, a leading voice in global climate science and professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Socolow, now a senior scholar at Princeton, is best known for the Stabilization Wedges proposal for addressing the climate change problem. First published in Science in 2004 by Socolow and Stephen Pacala, the Frederick D. Petrie Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Emeritus, the proposal provides quantitative measures and tools to mitigate climate change. The work, along with subsequent publications, has become foundational to international efforts to transform economies to dramatically decrease emissions of greenhouse gases.

Socolow received his doctorate in high-energy physics from Harvard and, as an assistant professor of physics at Yale, helped validate the quark model. With the 1971 publication of his book “Patient Earth,” co-written with colleague John Harte, Socolow began to focus on environmental studies. He joined the Princeton faculty in 1971 to help establish the University’s Center for Environmental Studies, where he led the first interdisciplinary group to study residential energy use. Socolow later served as co-director of Princeton’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative and helped launch the Princeton Environmental Institute, which is now the High Meadows Environmental Institute. Among other research interests, Socolow was a founder of the field of industrial ecology, which studies the flow of materials through the economy, and played a key role in research into carbon capture and storage.

Socolow is a member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Lifetime National Associate of the National Research Council of the National Academies. He is a recipient of the APS Leo Szilard Lectureship Award and the Frank Kreith Energy Award of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

The John Scott Award, created in 1815, was endowed by chemist John Scott in honor of Benjamin Franklin and is administered by the Board of Directors of City Trusts on behalf of the City of Philadelphia. The award is scheduled to be presented at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia on Nov. 30.


  • Energy and Environment

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