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WHOI President & Director Dr. Peter de Menocal Recognized as AAAS Fellow

WHOI President and Director Peter de Menocal. (Photo by Eileen Barroso, Columbia University)

November 24, 2020

WHOI's 11th President and Director Peter de Menocal. (Photo by Daniel Hentz, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Dr. Peter de Menocal, President and Director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution of has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as a AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

This year 489 members have been awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

This year’s AAAS Fellows will be formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science on 27 November 2020. A virtual Fellows Forum—an induction ceremony for the new Fellows—will be held on 13 February 2021.

As part of the Geology and Geography section, Dr. Peter de Menocal was elected as an AAAS Fellow for his fundamental contributions to understanding human physical and cultural evolution in relation to paleo-environmental change on the African continent.

“I’m honored to be included in this distinguished group,” said de Menocal. “The mission of AAAS aligns well with WHOI’s in our quest to share scientific knowledge and inform people and policies for a healthier planet.”

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the association’s 24 sections, or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members (so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee’s institution), or by the AAAS chief executive officer. Fellows must have been continuous members of AAAS for four years by the end of the calendar year in which they are elected. The AAAS Fellow honor comes with an expectation that recipients maintain the highest standards of professional ethics and scientific integrity.

Each steering group reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and a final list is forwarded to the AAAS Council, which votes on the aggregate list.

The Council is the policymaking body of the Association, chaired by the AAAS president, and consisting of the members of the board of directors, the retiring section chairs, delegates from each electorate and each regional division, and two delegates from the National Association of Academies of Science.

AAAS encourages its sections and Council to consider diversity among those nominated and selected as Fellows, in keeping with the association’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.


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About Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930, its mission is to understand the ocean and its interactions with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate an understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. WHOI’s pioneering discoveries stem from an ideal combination of science and engineering—one that has made it one of the most trusted and technically advanced leaders in fundamental and applied ocean research and exploration anywhere. WHOI is known for its multidisciplinary approach, superior ship operations, and unparalleled deep-sea robotics capabilities. We play a leading role in ocean observation, and operate the most extensive suite of ocean data-gathering platforms in the world. Top scientists, engineers, and students collaborate on more than 800 concurrent projects worldwide—both above and below the waves—pushing the boundaries of knowledge to inform people and policies for a healthier planet. For more information, please visit


About Dr. Peter de Menocal

Dr. Peter de Menocal is a marine geologist and paleo-oceanographer who studies deep-sea sediments as archives of past climate change, illuminating centuries of climate history and ocean circulation patterns in the geological record and drawing connections to the human dimensions of climate change today.

De Menocal was the Thomas Alva Edison/Con Edison Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. De Menocal also served as Columbia's Dean of Science for the Faculty of Arts & Sciences between 2016-2019, overseeing the University's nine scientific departments. During his tenure as Dean of Science, he developed and executed on a strategic plan that helped double philanthropic support for the sciences, significantly increase success in winning large center and institute awards, and double faculty hiring rates for women and under-represented minorities in the natural sciences.

De Menocal has published more than 150 scientific papers over his decades-long career in oceanography. He is also the founding director of Columbia's Center for Climate and Life, a team of more than 120 PhD scientists and other experts mobilizing use-inspired science to understand how climate impacts essential aspects of human life, including food security, water, shelter, and sustainable energy solutions. Under de Menocal's leadership, the Center pioneered collaborations with the private sector to inform science-based solutions.


About the American Association for the Advancement of Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, as well as Science Translational Medicine; Science Signaling; a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances; Science Immunology; and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For additional information about AAAS, see