Richard Alley
2018 Distinguished Explorer

Richard Alley has been named the recipient of the 2018 Roy Chapman Andrews Society Distinguished Explorer Award. Alley is an internationally renowned geologist, glaciologist and science communicator, whose discoveries have led to ground-breaking advances in the understanding of rapid climate change and the stability of polar climates. As a lead author of the Fourth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Alley and his team shared the 2007 Nobel Prize with Al Gore. A dynamic and engaging speaker, he has been described by Andy Revkin of the New York Times as “a cross between Woody Allen and Carl Sagan.”

The Two-Mile Time Machine | Richard AlleyDuring numerous expeditions to Greenland, Antarctica, and Alaska, Alley has studied glaciers and conducted coring measurements on ice sheets that reveal the nature of ancient climates. This research has demonstrated that climate changes larger than any experienced by human civilizations have occurred repeatedly in the past, sometimes transitioning as quickly as a decade or even a single year. These discoveries formed the basis for one of Alley’s popular books, The Two-Mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future, which won the Phi Beta Kappa Science Book Award.

Earth | The Operators Manual, by Richard AlleyAlley shares the passion Andrews had as a communicator about science and discovery. He has authored more than 350 scientific publications, including books and popularizations, and given more than 1000 public lectures. Alley is the author of Earth: The Operators’ Manual, which led to the critically acclaimed PBS television mini-series that he hosted in 2011. The show was intended to leave viewers “informed, energized, and optimistic” about Earth’s environmental problems and potential solutions. For this and other public engagement activities, Alley received the Schneider Award for Science Communication.

Alley’s scientific service work has also extended to government, featuring presentations to United States government officials in multiple administrations, including the Vice President, the President’s Science Advisor, and multiple Senate and House Committees.

Richard Alley | Climate Scientist, Penn State University

Richard Alley

Roy Chapman Andrews Lecture: March 2, 2018

“The more the climate is forced to change, the more likely it is to hit some unforeseen threshold that can trigger quite fast, surprising and perhaps unpleasant changes.”
~ Richard Alley

Distinguished Explorer Award Presentation
And Public Lecture:

Ice is Nice:
Through Deep Time to Our Future

The explorer will share stories about his polar expeditions and discoveries in his acceptance speech, “Ice is Nice: Through Deep Time to Our Future,” during his award ceremony on Friday, March 2 at 4:30 p.m. in Wilson Theatre in Mayer Hall on the Beloit College campus. Earlier that day he will present a program called “Empowering People: Finding Good News in the Greenhouse” for area youth at Beloit Memorial High School. These programs honor the Andrews legacy and are sponsored by members and supporters of the Society. Distinguished explorers receive a cash prize and a commemorative statue created by noted regional artist O. V. Shaffer.

The Distinguished Explorer Award | Roy Chapman Andrews SocietyPresentation by Richard Alley, 2018 Distinguished Explorer

  • Friday, March 2nd, 2018, 4:30 pm
  • Wilson Theatre in Mayer Hall, Beloit College
  • FREE! Public is welcome.  And bring the kids!

Reception Dinner

Immediately following the acceptance lecture

A celebratory reception and dinner honoring Richard Alley will be held immediately following the acceptance lecture.

Science Center on the Beloit College Campus
700 College St.

  • 6:30 p.m. reception
  • 7:00 p.m. dinner
  • $60 Members and member’s guests
  • $75 Non-members and guests
  • Reservations required and deadline: February 23, 2018

This is a popular event and is known to sell out. Advance reservations and tickets are required for this event.

Make Your Reservation

Good News on Energy and Environment
April 2016

Perspectives on Limits to Growth
March 2012

National Academy of Sciences
4.6 Billion Years of Earth’s Climate History
June 2015

Roy Chapman Andrews Society Student Program

Student Presentation

Empowering People: Finding Good News in the Greenhouse

Earlier in the day Richard Alley will share stories and discoveries with students while visiting Beloit to accept his award. This presentation is coordinated with area schools and is held at Beloit Memorial High School.

Local Wisconsin Ties

Alley has local ties to southern Wisconsin, having received his Ph.D. in Geology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1987. This achievement followed his graduate study at Ohio State University with 2007 Distinguished Explorer Award winners Lonnie and Ellen Mosley-Thompson. In 1988, Alley joined the geosciences faculty at Pennsylvania State University, where he is the Evan Pugh University Professor of Geosciences and a member of the Penn State Ice and Climate Exploration group. His work has earned him widespread national and international recognition, including membership in the United States National Academy of Sciences and United Kingdom’s The Royal Society.

Alley will be the 17th recipient of the Distinguished Explorer Award. Canadian cultural anthropologist Wade Davis received the Society’s most recent award in April of 2017. Other recipients receiving this prestigious award include Michael J. Novacek, leader of the first Western expedition to the Gobi Desert since Andrews’s research there during the 1920s that unearthed the first nest of fossilized dinosaur eggs; Steve Squyres, scientific principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover mission; and Robert Ballard, discoverer of the RMS Titanic shipwreck.
Formed in 1999, the Roy Chapman Andrews Society’s mission is to honor its namesake by educating the public about Andrews’s life, work, and adventures; promoting the value of scientific exploration and discovery; and emphasizing Andrews’ lifetime ties to Beloit.


Some titles will be on-hand and available for sale at both the award presentation and reception.

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