Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Fred Strohl (strohlhf@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


ORNL corporate fellow to chair global change committee

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Oct. 21, 2004 — Corporate Fellow Tom J. Wilbanks of the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been named chair of the Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy is an independent agency with committees that conduct studies and prepare reports in order to advise the federal government regarding science issues. The committee was formed in 1989 to help guide research in the United States on the interactions between human activity and global environmental change. The committee provides broad scientific expertise and judgment to the U.S. Climate Change Science program and other climate-related programs. It focuses on two tasks – developing the intellectual basis for progress in understanding human-environmental interactions and setting research directions for the future.

Wilbanks is considered an authority on applying geographic, social science and technological knowledge and perspectives on sustainable development issues – particularly in the areas of solving energy challenges in developing countries and understanding responses to climate change concerns.

He leads ORNL's programs in global change and developing countries, and is a former president of the Association of American Geographers. Wilbanks earned the National Geographic Society's Distinguished Geography Educator Award in 1993 and the James R. Anderson Medal of Honor in applied geography in 1995 – the only individual to have received both of these honors.

Wilbanks joined ORNL in 1977 after serving on the faculties of the University of Oklahoma and Syracuse University. He earned a bachelor's degree in social science from Trinity University and a master and doctorate in geography from Syracuse.

Wilbanks and his wife, Kay, reside in West Knoxville. They have three adult children and two grandchildren.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.