Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, Renowned Scientist and Weather-Climate Expert, to Receive Prestigious Environmental Achievement Award

August 2023

(Washington, D.C.)—The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is proud to announce Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, a renowned atmospheric scientist and leading international weather-climate expert, as the recipient of the prestigious 2023 Environmental Achievement Award. This accolade is presented annually 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,” noted 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, Dr. 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. Shepherd has been an advisor and a contributor as keynote speaker in ELI’s Climate Judiciary Project—ELI’s groundbreaking program to educate judges in climate science.

 "Dr. Marshall Shepherd embodies the very essence of what the Environmental Achievement Award stands for," added 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."

Dr. 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, The Today Show, 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.  

Dr. 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 University of Georgia (UGA) faculty member in its history. And the American Association of Advancement of Science honored Dr. Shepherd with its 2020 Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science. 

Dr. Shepherd currently serves as the Director of the UGA's Atmospheric Sciences Program, the Associate Director of Climate and Outreach for the Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems, and Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geography.  

The 2023 Environmental Achievement Award will be presented to Dr. J Marshall Shepherd at the ELI Annual Award Dinner on October 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. 

The Environmental Law Institute extends its sincerest congratulations to Dr. Shepherd for this well-deserved recognition and looks forward to celebrating his achievements.