Ed Maibach ranked the most influential climate change scientist among those at U.S. public universities and number 7 worldwide

Ed Maibach
Ed Maibach is ranked the most influential climate change scientist among those at U.S. public universities and number 7 worldwide. Photo by Aaron Maibach

George Mason University’s Ed Maibach is the most influential scientist working on climate change among America’s public universities, according to a recent Reuters ranking of the researchers.

Maibach, a University Professor in the Department of Communication and the director of the Center for Climate Change Communication within Mason’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, ranked 7th overall in the Reuters Hot List identifying and ranking the world’s top 1,000 climate scientists. Only two other American scientists finished above him, including his research partner Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale University, who finished second.

“This is nice for me professionally and personally,” Maibach said. “But the real importance of these rankings is the prominence of social science—two of the top 10 are social scientists. Climate science is indispensable, but if society is to put this knowledge to use, so, too, is social science. That our work is being taken seriously is a good thing.”

The three criteria Reuters used in determining the rankings were number of research papers published on topics related to climate change, how often those papers were cited by other scientists in similar fields of study, and how often those papers are referenced in the press, on social media, and in policy papers.

Their research has collectively impacted other scientists, the public, activists and political leaders about the dangers of climate change.

“We either make better decisions or we face great peril,” Maibach said.

Ann Ardis, the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said she was thrilled with news of Maibach’s recognition, but hardly surprised.

“In his longstanding advocacy for climate science, he has not only made significant contributions to the field, but, just as important, he has translated his expertise and his commitment to sharing the impacts of climate change in a way that is understandable to members of the public and to policymakers alike,” she said. “His work perfectly illustrates the human side of science.” 

Joining Maibach on the Reuters Hot List were fellow Mason faculty Jagadish Shukla and Bohua Huang. The full list can be seen here.

Maibach, who is also a member of Mason’s Institute for a Sustainable Earth, is an expert in the use of strategic communication and social marketing to address climate change and related public health challenges. His research has primarily focused on public understanding of climate change and clean energy, the psychology key to public engagement and the cultivation of trusted voices, such as TV weathercasters and health professionals, as effective climate educators.

He’s long been lauded for his efforts to better educate the public and policymakers alike since focusing exclusively on climate change as the world’s most pressing threat to public health and well-being since 2007.

Maibach played a critical role in the formation of the Yale/Mason Climate Change in the American Mind survey project that has consistently been featured in major media outlets throughout the country for more than a decade.

In January, Maibach and his good friend Leiserowitz were honored by the nonpartisan and San Francisco-based Climate One the as the co-recipients of the Stephen H. Schneider Award given to a natural or social scientist who has made “extraordinary scientific contributions and communicated that knowledge to a broad public in a clear and compelling fashion,” according to the press release.

Maibach has also teamed with Mason colleague Mona Sarfaty to create the Medical Society Consortium on Climate Health to organize, empower and amplify the voices of America’s doctors about the dangers of climate change to our health and climate solutions that could improve it.