University of Georgia professor J. Marshall Shepherd was recently named the recipient of the prestigious 2023 Environmental Achievement Award. This accolade is presented annually by the Environmental Law Institute to individuals or organizations that have made notable contributions to environmental protection, conservation and sustainability.
“Dr. Shepherd’s outstanding career and commitment to understanding and communicating about climate science and its implications for global environments and communities is truly remarkable,” said ELI President Jordan Diamond. “With a long-standing record of exceptional scientific research, thought leadership and public education on atmospheric sciences, he has been instrumental in bridging the gap between scientific discovery and public discourse.”
As a professor, scientist, communicator and a former president of the American Meteorological Society, Shepherd has consistently emphasized the vital importance of scientifically informed decision-making in addressing environmental challenges. His commitment to factual and evidence-based dialogue has elevated public discussions on climate, weather extremes and environmental justice. This commitment is regularly on display as he hosts The Weather Channel’s award-winning “Weather Geeks,” publishes in the scholarly literature and engages as a public intellectual.
“Dr. Marshall Shepherd embodies the very essence of what the Environmental Achievement Award stands for,” said Sandra Nichols Thiam, ELI’s vice president for research & policy. “His dedication to both rigorous scientific inquiry and its translation to actionable insights for policymakers, communities and the general public is unparalleled. Through his work, he has significantly advanced our collective understanding of Earth’s climate systems and the importance of proactive environmental stewardship.”
Shepherd is a highly sought-after expert in the fields of weather, climate and remote sensing. His insights are regularly featured on prominent platforms such as CBS “Face the Nation,” “NOVA,” “Today,” CNN, Forbes and The Weather Channel, among others. His TED Talks command an audience of millions, and he often provides counsel to leading figures at NASA, the White House, Congress, the Department of Defense and international officials.
Shepherd’s contributions to the field have been recognized by many other organizations. In 2004, President Bush honored him at the White House with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and numerous other honors have followed. Most recently, he was selected as the Southeastern Conference (SEC) 2022 Professor of the Year, and in 2021 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an unprecedented achievement by any UGA faculty member in its history. And the American Association for the Advancement of Science honored Shepherd with its 2020 Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science.
“To join the esteemed list of recipients is humbling and quite an honor,” said Shepherd. “The ELI is a key beacon and this award highlights that we face the crisis of our time and must apply every tool in the box to fix it.”
Shepherd also serves as the director of the UGA Atmospheric Sciences Program, the associate director of climate and outreach for the Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems, and the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geography.
The 2023 Environmental Achievement Award will be presented to Shepherd at the ELI Annual Award Dinner on Oct. 24. By honoring individuals and organizations for demonstrating outstanding commitment to environmental protection, ELI helps set the standards for the environmental profession. The dinner is a signal opportunity for environmental professionals to forge new bonds of cooperation, while supporting the agenda-setting research, education and training programs of the institute. The event now attracts attention year-round, making it a unique gathering of the nation’s environmental leaders, with professionals attending from across the country and around the world.