Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Bill Cabage (cabagewh@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


Geographers honor ORNL's Tom Wilbanks

Tom Wilbanks
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 24, 2009 — Tom Wilbanks, a social scientist and researcher on the human dimensions of climate change for the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has been recognized by the Association of American Geographers (AAG) for his service to geography and the general scientific community.

Wilbanks, a UT-Battelle corporate fellow whose research career spans four decades, received the AAG's Presidential Achievement Award Monday at the association's annual meeting from AAG Past President Thomas J. Baerwald, who selected him for the honor.

The AAG Presidential Achievement Award was established in 2004 to recognize individuals who have made long-standing and distinguished contributions to the discipline of geography.

"I have long admired the outstanding work you have done in academic settings during your early career and in public settings throughout your professional life. The contributions you have made are significant, and I am delighted that we will be able to recognize them by presenting this award," Baerwald told Wilbanks in informing him of the award.

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

He was coordinating lead author on the U.S. Climate Change Science Program report, "Effects of Climate Change on Energy Production and Use in the United States," and served as a coordinating lead author on the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerabilities. The UN panel shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

Wilbanks is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and chaired the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change. His previous AAG awards include the Honor Award (the association's highest honor) in 1986, as well as the Distinguished Geography Educator's Award from the National Geographic Society in 1993 and the Anderson Medal of Honor in Applied Geography in 1995. Wilbanks was named a National Associate of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine in 2003.

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

ORNL is managed for DOE's Office of Science by UT-Battelle.