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Warren Washington pictured with his wife Mary in front of the Valley Library

Climate science pioneer extends legacy with scholarship gift

By OSU Foundation
Eminent climate scientist Warren Washington, pictured with wife Mary, was honored with the College of Science's 2019 Lifetime Achievement in Science Award last fall.  

Nationally known climate scientist and Oregon State University alumnus Warren Washington and his wife, Mary, have established OSU’s largest endowed scholarship fund for students engaged in climate studies.

Their $100,000 gift secured by the Oregon State University Foundation will support undergraduate students in the College of Science and the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, with a preference for students from underrepresented populations.  

Washington is a distinguished scholar at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, where he has spent his professional career. He was one of the first developers of global climate models that used the laws of physics to create pioneering computer systems that simulated changes in the global atmosphere, land and oceans with unprecedented scope and accuracy. 

Washington earned his bachelor’s degree in physics and his master’s degree in general science at Oregon State. He went on to Pennsylvania State University, where he became the second African American in the nation to complete a doctorate in atmospheric sciences. Washington received an honorary doctorate from Oregon State in 2006 and the  College of Science’s Lifetime Achievement in Science Award in 2019.

Among many other honors, Washington was co-awarded the 2019 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement – often referred to as the “Nobel Prize for the Environment” – along with climate change expert Michael Mann. In 2010, President Barack Obama honored Washington’s achievements with the National Medal of Science.
Washington has served as a mentor for generations of students and young researchers from many backgrounds. At the national research center in Boulder, he was instrumental in launching the SOARS (Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science) program for ethnically diverse students.

“I’m a nurturer by nature, and I look after young scientists,” Washington said. “It’s important to me that they get encouragement and support because I got that when I was young. We have that responsibility. 

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