Climate scientist Peter C. Frumhoff named 2022 Richman Fellow

Peter Frumhoff

Peter C. Frumhoff, an ecologist who has brought global attention to issues related to climate change, has been selected by Brandeis University as the 2022 Richman Distinguished Fellow in Public Life.

Currently the chief climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Frumhoff informs the public understanding and motivates public policies related to climate change through robust scientific expertise. This includes authoring reports and assessments for key national and international entities, including the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and serving on boards and panels focused on the impact of climate change and mitigating its effects. 

Frumhoff’s work has shed light on topics such as the role of tropical forests and land-use in mitigating climate change, the connections between climate change and extreme weather events, and the responsibilities that fossil fuel companies should assume in mitigating their impact on climate.

“Peter Frumhoff is an eminent ecologist whose contributions to the public discourse around climate change deepen our collective understanding of one of the most challenging issues of our time and call us to action,” said Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz. “I will be pleased to welcome Professor Frumhoff to campus next year.”

The Richman Fellowship recognizes individuals active in public life whose contributions have had a significant impact on improving American society, strengthening democratic institutions, advancing social justice or increasing opportunities for all citizens. The annual award includes a $25,000 prize. Frumhoff will visit campus March 29 to 31, 2022  for a residency that will include an award ceremony, a public presentation, and other events that will engage the university community.

Frumhoff’s fellowship comes ahead of Brandeis’ Year on Climate Action, a year-long effort to engage the entire community, including alumni, in curricular and co-curricular programming that catalyzes and deepens our understanding of climate change as a social justice issue. The Year on Climate Action will launch in fall 2022. 

“We couldn’t think of a more fitting preview event for our Year on Climate Action,” said Mary Fischer, associate director of sustainability programs at Brandeis. “Peter Frumhoff’s work has been instrumental in educating the public on the causes and impacts of climate change, and in connecting them to corporate and government action.” 

Frumhoff currently serves on the Board of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate at the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine; and the Board of Editors of Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene. He previously served on the Board of Directors of the American Wind Wildlife Institute; the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science at the US Department of the Interior; and the Board of Editors of the journal Ecological Applications. 

He has taught at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Harvard University and the University of Maryland, and was an AAAS Science and Diplomacy Fellow at the US Agency for International Development. He received a PhD in ecology and master’s degree in zoology from the University of California at Davis, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California at San Diego.

The Richman Fellowship was created by Carol Richman Saivetz '69, along with her children, Michael Saivetz '97 and Aliza Saivetz Glasser '01, in honor of her parents, Fred and Rita Richman. Recent winners include disabilities rights activist Rebecca Cokley; playwright, actor, and educator Anna Deavere Smith; human rights attorney (and now US Associate Attorney General) Vanita Gupta; and community activist Rev. Jeffrey Brown.

The fellowship is hosted by the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life on behalf of the Office of the President and the Office of the Provost at Brandeis University.

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