Ben Santer

Ben Santer

Ben Santer is the recipient of the 2019 Sigma Xi William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement. The Procter prize has been awarded since 1950 to a scientist who has made an outstanding contribution to scientific research and has demonstrated an ability to communicate the significance of this research to scientists in other disciplines.

The prize consists of a bronze statue, commemorative certificate, and an award of $10,000 from which the Procter prize recipient receives a $5,000 honorarium and designates a younger colleague, usually in the same field of research, to receive a $5,000 award from Sigma Xi’s Grants in Aid of Research program. Presentation of the Procter prize is traditionally a principal event at Sigma Xi's Annual Meeting. The recipient is invited to give a lecture during the meeting.

Santer is an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He studies natural and human “fingerprints” in observed climate records. His early research contributed to the historic 1995 conclusion of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: “the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.” He served as lead author of a key chapter of that report. Since 1995, Ben has identified human fingerprints in atmospheric temperature and water vapor, ocean heat content, sea surface temperature in hurricane formation regions, and many other climate variables.

Santer holds a doctorate in climatology from the University of East Anglia, England. After completing his PhD in 1987, he spent five years at the Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany, where he worked on developing and applying climate fingerprint methods. Santer joined Lawrence Livermore in 1992.

Santer has received a number of awards for his research. These include a MacArthur Fellowship (1998) and membership in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (2011). The most significant awards are the friendships he has made during his career. In addition to his research, he cares deeply about the communication of climate science to a wide range of audiences. He writes for the Scientific American  blog and has appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Together with Chip Duncan and Hernando Garzon, Santer is a member of The Three Tenors of Climate Change. The Tenors are devoted to the task of improving public understanding of the science and impactsof human-caused climate change. In his spare time, Santer is an avid rock-climber and mountaineer.