Campus News Science & Technology

Shepherd elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

J. Marshall Shepherd
J. Marshall Shepherd (Photo by Nancy Evelyn/UGA)

The University of Georgia’s J. Marshall Shepherd has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an honorary society that recognizes and celebrates the excellence of its members and is also an independent research center that convenes leaders from across disciplines, professions and perspectives to address significant challenges.

This highly prestigious national honor comes in the same year that Shepherd, the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

“The University of Georgia is very proud of Dr. Shepherd for receiving this well-deserved recognition from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “To be elected to the NAE and AAAS in the same year is a testament to the significant reach and impact of Dr. Shepherd’s research and scholarship.”

A UGA faculty member since 2006, Shepherd is a leading international expert in weather and climate. He directs the university’s Atmospheric Sciences Program and is a professor in the department of geography, part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Shepherd has authored more than 90 peer-reviewed scholarly publications, and his research has been supported by agencies such as NASA, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Public engagement has been a key priority for Shepherd, who is frequently sought as an expert on weather, climate and remote sensing. He is the host of The Weather Channel’s award-winning show “Weather Geeks” and is a contributor to Forbes Magazine. Shepherd is frequently asked to advise key leaders at NASA, the White House, Congress, the Department of Defense and officials from foreign countries. He briefed the U.S. Senate on climate change and extreme weather in 2013 and testified before the House Science Committee in 2019.

“Dr. Shepherd’s election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences underscores the impact of his research and his deep commitment to sharing his expertise for the benefit of society,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “He continues to bring great distinction to the University of Georgia.”

Shepherd has earned several honors over the course of his career, including being named a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, receiving the Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the AGU Climate Communication Prize. Former President George W. Bush honored him in 2004 at the White House with the Presidential Early Career Award. In 2015, he was invited to moderate the White House Champions for Change event.

“As someone fascinated by science from a very young age, it is humbling that one of the most prestigious bodies in the world would honor my work and engagement,” Shepherd said. “It is fitting that I found out on Earth Day, as much of my scientific research and applied focus has centered on weather, climate, and associated risks to humankind.”

Prior to joining the UGA faculty, Shepherd spent 12 years as a research meteorologist at NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center and was deputy project scientist for the Global Precipitation Measurement mission, a multinational space mission that launched in 2014.

“Dr. Shepherd follows in the great tradition of prolific and talented expositors of science, the scientific method, and the human condition,” said Alan T. Dorsey, dean of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “With a gift for communicating his significant scientific expertise on climate and weather in an accessible, clear and compelling fashion, he is inspiring a new generation of budding scientists, both at UGA and across the nation.”

The American Academy of Arts and Scientists was founded in 1780, during the American Revolution, by John Adams, John Hancock and 60 other scholar-patriots who understood that a new republic would require institutions able to gather knowledge and advance learning in service to the public good. It honors excellence and convenes leaders from every field of human endeavor to examine new ideas, address issues of importance to the nation and the world, and work together “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.”

To learn more about Shepherd’s work, read this Great Commitments story.

Shepherd is UGA’s 11th faculty member elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He joins Henry Schaefer, Roberto Docampo and several emeritus faculty members from UGA who have earned this recognition.