College of LAS « Illinois

LAS Alumnus Receives National Medal of Science


In a ceremony at the White House on June 12, President Bush presented LAS alum Dr. Charles Keeling with the 2001 National Medal of Science. The award is presented annually by the National Science Foundation for lifetime achievement in the sciences.

This year's 15 recipients brings the total number of recipients to 401. Keeling was recognized for his research on atmospheric and oceanic carbon dioxide. He was the first to measure the accumulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The resulting data set was dubbed the "Keeling curve." His research is key to understanding the carbon cycle and global warming.


Born in Scranton, PA, Keeling graduated from UI in 1948 with a degree in chemistry. In 1954 he earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from Northwestern University and was a postdoctoral fellow in geochemistry at the California Institute of Technology. He is currently professor of oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California in La Jolla.

Keeling and Scripps colleague Timothy Whorf published their latest findings in the March 21st online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They propose an 1,800-year cycle of strong tidal forces that increases vertical mixing in the oceans and causes cooling at the sea surface. Their report also discusses the coincidence of major tidal fluctuations and significant global phenomena.

July 1, 2002