Climate One Honors Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

JULY 14, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO — Climate One, a project of The Commonwealth Club of California, today announced the recipient of the 11th annual Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication: Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. Each year, Climate One grants the $15,000 award to a natural or social scientist who has made extraordinary scientific contributions and communicated that knowledge to a broad public in a clear and compelling fashion. The award, underwritten by Tom R. Burns, Nora Machado and Michael Haas, was established in honor of Stephen Henry Schneider, one of the founding fathers of climatology, who died suddenly in 2010.

“Ayana is the true embodiment of what I call an ‘end to end scientist.’ Her mastery of the science of oceans and climate is undeniable. Equally impressive is her ability to broadly and effectively engage in multiple platforms: long form books, podcasts, social media, and television. She's truly someone Dr. Schneider would have likely picked himself,” said J. Marshall Shepherd, Schneider Award juror and Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia.

“When Dr. Marshall Shepherd called to tell me I had won this award, it stopped me in my tracks,” said Dr. Johnson. “There are so many people doing remarkable climate communication work that I am floored to have my contributions honored in this way. I often wonder whether all my op-eds and speeches and podcast episodes and policy memos and tweets are breaking through at all, whether they are welcoming more people into climate work and bolstering those already in it – and whether they might be helping to ensure we don't forget how core the ocean is to climate solutions! So a recognition like this is fuel. It's a crew cheering you on and passing you water and playing your favorite song as you run uphill at mile eight of a marathon. And when I learned of all the previous awardees... well, I am gobsmacked to be in this company. Thank you for this honor.”

“Marine biologist and policy advisor Ayana Elizabeth Johnson has broadened the audience for climate change communication by reaching out to a diverse younger generation,” said Cristine Russell, Schneider Award juror and Senior Fellow, Environment and Natural Resources Program, Harvard University. “She promotes solutions-oriented efforts not only from scientists but artists, teachers, students, and executives, urging coastal and ocean protection as well as more renewable energy from offshore wind projects. Dr. Johnson's own energy is contagious.”

Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University, also served as a juror. All jurors believe that the work of Dr. Johnson exemplifies the rare ability to be both a superb scientist and a powerful communicator in the mold of Stephen Schneider.

About Dr. Johnson

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, writer, and Brooklyn native. She is co-founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for coastal cities, and co-creator and co-host of the Spotify/Gimlet podcast How to Save a Planet, on climate solutions. With Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, she co-edited the climate anthology All We Can Save, and co-founded The All We Can Save Project. Recently, she co-authored the Blue New Deal, a roadmap for including the ocean in climate policy. Previously, she was executive director of the Waitt Institute, developed policy at the EPA and NOAA, served as a leader of the March for Science, and taught as an adjunct professor at New York University. Dr. Johnson earned a BA from Harvard University in environmental science and public policy, and a Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in marine biology. She publishes widely, including in The New York Times, Washington Post, and Scientific American. She is on the 2021 Time 100 Next List and was named one of Elle’s 27 Women Leading on Climate. Outside magazine called her “the most influential marine biologist of our time.” Her mission is to build community around solutions to our climate crisis. Find her @ayanaeliza.

About Dr. Schneider

Dr. Stephen H. Schneider was the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, professor of biological sciences, professor (by courtesy) of civil and environmental engineering, and a senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. Schneider received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and plasma physics from Columbia University in 1971. He studied the role of greenhouse gases and suspended particulate material on climate as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in 1972 and was a member of the scientific staff of NCAR from 1973-1996, where he co-founded the Climate Project. In 2002, Schneider was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Internationally recognized for research, policy analysis and outreach in climate change, Schneider focused on climate change science, integrated assessment of ecological and economic impacts of human-induced climate change, and identifying viable climate policies and technological solutions. He also consulted with federal agencies and/or White House staff in the Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and both Bush administrations. His work is chronicled at

Past Winners of The Stephen H. Schneider Award Presented by Climate One

Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz, Director and Senior Research Scientist, Yale Program on Climate Change Communication
Dr. Edward Maibach Director, George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication
Dr. Robert Bullard, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy, Texas Southern University
Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, Professor and Director, Climate Science Center, Texas Tech University
Dr. Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Penn State University
Dr. Naomi Oreskes, Professor of History of Science and affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University
Dr. Chris Field, Director, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science
Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Distinguished Professor, Oregon State University
Dr. Nicholas Stern, Chair, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change
Dr. James Hansen, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Dr. Richard Alley, Professor of Geosciences, Penn State University

About Climate One

Climate One is a special project at The Commonwealth Club of California, a nonprofit and nonpartisan public forum founded in San Francisco in 1903. Climate One conversations feature energy companies and environmentalists, Republicans and Democrats, the exciting and the scary aspects of the climate challenge. Hosted by founder Greg Dalton, the show is broadcast on public radio stations around the country, and released every Friday as a podcast, reaching over 90,000 listeners per episode.