Scott Mandia

2014 Ambassador Award Winner

Scott Mandia was awarded the 2014 Ambassador Awards at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 17 December 2014 in San Francisco, Calif. The award is in recognition of “outstanding contributions to the following area(s): societal impact, service to the Earth and space community, scientific leadership, and promotion of talent/career pool.”


Scott Mandia is helping the Earth science community deal with problems we never expected.

In 2009, scientists at leading research institutions had their emails stolen, mischaracterized, and plastered across the global media. Scientists were shocked that misinformation about their research could spread so rapidly.

Scott Mandia, along with two other researchers, decided to help. They formed the Climate Science Rapid Response Team to proactively address misinformation about climate research and assist scientists in accurately communicating their research to the public and the media. Their volunteer effort now includes more than 200 climate researchers who regularly communicate with journalists and provide assistance to nongovernmental organizations that are active on climate issues.

Mandia’s work has helped many early- and -mid-​-career scientists take on more ambitious public outreach opportunities, and many members of the rapid response team have grown as communicators in the past several years.

Of course, attacks on climate scientists didn’t stop. In many ways, they got worse. In several cases, advocacy groups and politicians sued scientists in court and falsely accused them of faking their climate research. At the time, the Earth science community was not prepared to respond to these unprecedented legal assaults. Mandia stepped into the breach again and worked with documentary film maker Joshua Wolfe and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility to create the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF), which now provides regular legal assistance to researchers.

The group has been a saving grace to the many scientists who have faced invasive document requests and other burdensome legal attacks. At the same time, the group’s assistance has had a positive ripple effect in the scientific community. Other researchers can publicly communicate about their work secure in the knowledge that if they are attacked by advocacy groups or politicians, they can get the help they need.

Mandia’s drive and enthusiasm are infectious. He approaches his work with the Earth science community seriously and with good cheer. His willingness to step up and provide valuable, necessary services to Earth scientists makes him an excellent inaugural recipient of AGU’s Ambassador Award.

—Michael E. Mann, Pennsylvania State University, University Park


I am honored to have been chosen to receive one of AGU’s inaugural Ambassador Awards. I accept on behalf of the many people who helped make this possible. Deepest thanks to Dr. Michael Mann for coordinating the nomination process and to the others who wrote supporting letters. Thank you to the AGU awards committee members for considering my nomination worthy of this award. Your time is greatly appreciated.

Thank you to Drs. John Abraham and Ray Weymann for founding the Climate Science Rapid Response Team with me in 2010 and to Drs. Michael Ashley and Jan Dash for helping to manage the team over the past few years. Thank you to the climate scientists who joined the team. Your willingness to be “on call” for journalists and policy makers has provided them with critical, rapid, and cutting edge science information. Deepest thanks to Aaron Huertas (Union of Concerned Scientists) and to Susan Joy Hassol and Dr. Richard Somerville -(climatecommunication​.-org) for providing science communication workshops for our team members. Because of the work of these two groups, many of our team members have become superb science communicators. The combination of our experts’ willingness to reach out coupled with their advanced communication skills has moved forward the public dial of understanding of climate science.

Unfortunately, some groups and individuals have found climate science research inconvenient to their worldview and have used Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws to harass our experts and thus stifle the scientific endeavor. In January 2012, I cofounded the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund along with Joshua Wolfe to respond to this unfortunate reality. The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund serves to assist scientists when they face legal attacks as well as to educate them about their rights and best practices to avoid such attacks. I wish to thank Jeff Ruch and his staff at PEER for agreeing to become our fiscal sponsor and for always being there when scientists contacted our service in need of legal advice. Many thanks to Joshua Wolfe for being a huge part of the growth and success of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, even though you prefer to remain behind the scenes.

Finally, I wish to thank my wonderful wife, Kelly, who has steadfastly supported all of my climate -science–related activities. You understand how important these activities are to me and to others, and for that, I am truly grateful.

—Scott Mandia, Suffolk County Community College, Selden, N.Y.