Informal Thematic Debate
Climate Change as a Global Challenge

Robert H. Socolow

Robert H. Socolow is a Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University. He was the Director of the University’s Center for Energy and Environmental Studies from 1979 to 1997. He teaches in both the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Socolow’s current research focuses on the characteristics of a global energy system responsive to global and local environmental and security constraints. His specific areas of interest include carbon dioxide capture from fossil fuels and storage in geological formations, nuclear power, energy efficiency in buildings, and the acceleration of deployment of advanced technologies in developing countries. He is the co-principal investigator (with ecologist, Stephen Pacala) of Princeton University's Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI), a ten-year (2001-2010) project, supported by BP and Ford. Pacala and Socolow are the authors of “Stabilization wedges: Solving the climate problem for the next 50 years with current technologies,” which appeared in the August 13, 2004 issue of Science.

Socolow was the editor of Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, 1992-2002. He served on the Board of Directors of the National Audubon Society from 1992-99. In July 1997 he co-chaired the Workshop on Fuels Decarbonization and Carbon Sequestration, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. In 1995, Socolow was a member of the Fusion Review Panel of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). In the l970s and 80s, he directed a team of physical scientists, engineers, architects, statisticians, and behavioral scientists in a series of unique research projects on energy conservation in housing. With John Harte, Socolow co-edited Patient Earth (Holt, Rinehart, l97l), one of the first college textbooks in environmental studies.

Socolow earned a B.A. in l959 (summa cum laude) and Ph.D. in theoretical high energy physics in l964 from Harvard University. He was an assistant professor of physics at Yale University from l966 to l97l. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was awarded the 2003 Leo Szilard Lectureship Award by the American Physical Society: “For leadership in establishing energy and environmental problems as legitimate research fields for physicists, and for demonstrating that these broadly defined problems can be addressed with the highest scientific standards.” In 2004 he was made a lifetime National Associate of the National Academies of the U.S., "in recognition of extraordinary service to the National Academies in its role as advisor to the Nation in matters of science, engineering, and health." In 2005, he received the Axel Axelson Johnson Commemorative Lecture award from the Royal Academy of Engineering Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden. The award, given every five years, in principle, had last been given in 1995. The inscription on the medal reads (translation from Swedish): “For a remarkable effort in the application of engineering science research in mankind’s service.”