Plenary 1: Framing Climate Change Science


Richard Harris, award-winning journalist, reports on science issues for NPR's newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition In 2010, Harris' reporting uncovered that the blown-out BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was spewing out far more oil than asserted in the official estimates.  He covered the United Nations climate negotiations, starting with the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, followed by Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009. Harris was a major contributor to NPR's award-winning 2007-2008 "Climate Connections" series.

Over the course of his career, Harris has been the recipient of many of the journalism and science industries' most prestigious awards. The University of California at Santa Cruz awarded Harris the 2010-11 Alumni Achievement Award; in 2002, Harris was elected an honorary member of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society. Harris shared a 1995 Peabody Award for investigative reporting on NPR about the tobacco industry. As part of the team that collaborated on NPR's 1989 series "AIDS in Black America," Harris was awarded a Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, a first place award from the National Association of Black Journalists and an Ohio State Award. In 1988, Harris won the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Award.  Harris is co-founder of the Washington, D.C., Area Science Writers Association, as well as past president of the National Association of Science Writers.

Confirmed Speakers

Virginia Burkett is the Chief Scientist for Climate and Land Use Change at the U.S. Geological Survey.  Her research and publications of the past 20 years have focused on climate change, sea level rise, and impacts to coastal communities and ecosystems.

Burkett was formerly Secretary/Director of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.  She has also served as Deputy Secretary/Director of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Director of the Louisiana Coastal Zone Management Program, and Assistant Director of the Louisiana Geological Survey.

Burkett is a Lead Author of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third, Fourth, and Fifth Assessment Reports (2001, 2007, 2014), the IPCC Technical Paper on Water (2008), and three U.S. National Climate Assessments (2000, 2009, 2014).  She is a Senior Editor of the journal Regional Environmental Change.


Katharine Jacobs is a faculty member at the University of Arizona (UA) in the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science and is the Director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions (CCASS) located on the UA campus in Tucson.  CCASS supports climate change adaptation and assessment activities at regional, national and international scales, supported by University experts in a wide range of climate related fields.

From 2010 – 2013, Jacobs served as an Assistant Director in the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President. Jacobs was the director of the National Climate Assessment, leading a team of 300 authors and more than a thousand contributors who wrote the Third NCA report.  She also was the lead advisor on water science and policy, and climate adaptation within OSTP.

Prior to her work in the White House, from 2006-2009 Jacobs was the Executive Director of the Arizona Water Institute, a consortium of the three state universities focused on water-related research, education and technology transfer in support of water supply sustainability. She has more than twenty years of experience as a water manager for the State of Arizona Department of Water Resources, including 14 years as director of the Tucson Active Management Area.  Her research interests include water policy, connecting science and decision-making, stakeholder engagement, use of climate information for water management applications, climate change adaptation and drought planning. 

Ms. Jacobs earned her M.L.A. in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley.  She has served on eight National Research Council panels and was Chair of the NRC Panel on Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change and a member of the panel on America’s Climate Choices. 


Anthony Janetos recently joined Boston University as Director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, and Professor of Earth and Environment.  Dr. Janetos was most recently Director of the Joint Global Change Research Institute at the University of Maryland, and has held positions at The Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, WRI, NASA, and the EPA.

Professor Janetos received his A.B. in Biology from Harvard and his Master’s and Ph.D. in Biology from Princeton.  Dr. Janetos has written and spoken widely on the need to understand the scientific, environmental, economic, and policy linkages among the major global environmental issues.  In addition to his research interests in the interaction of land systems with human needs and climate change, he has been an IPCC Lead Author and Coordinating Lead Author, and has served on multiple National Research Council Committees and Boards.

His priorities for the Pardee Center are to foster the integration of natural and social sciences, so that it can continue its long tradition of “interdisciplinary, policy-relevant, and future-oriented research that contributes to long-term improvements in the human condition.”


Jack Kaye serves as Associate Director for Research in the Earth Science Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. In this role, he has responsibility for NASA's research programs in Earth System Science, covering the earth's land, atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere, and biosphere and all the interactions among them. The research program includes satellite data analysis, computational modeling, airborne science, and ground-based measurements, and supports researchers at NASA centers, universities, laboratories of other government agencies, and private and non-profit entities. Dr. Kaye is a 30-year veteran of NASA, having started as a researcher at the Goddard Space Flight Center in 1983 and then working at NASA HQ as manager of the Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling and Analysis Program prior to taking on his current role. He represents NASA in many interagency and international organizations, especially the US Global Change Research Program, for which he is NASA's principal member (and for which he served as the program's acting director for much of 2009-2010). He currently serves as the chair of the Expert Team on Satellite Systems for the World Meteorological Organization. He has been recognized as a Fellow by both the American Meteorological Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has been awarded two Meritorious Senior Executive Award for his work at NASA, along with NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal.