Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist, co-director of the Climate Center and an endowed professor in the Department of Political Science.
As an undergraduate, Katharine Hayhoe entered the University of Toronto originally intent on becoming an astrophysicist.
Needing to complete a degree requirement, she enrolled in a class on climate science.
That one decision, seemingly minor in the grand scheme of things, changed Hayhoe’s
life and ended up providing the world with one of its premier climate science experts.
As a lead author of the Second, Third and Fourth U.S. National Climate Assessments,
she has played a large role in helping assess climate risks for several U.S. presidential
administrations as well as discussing the necessity to tackle climate change with
leaders around the world.
Now, she will take on a vital responsibility for one of the world’s leading environmental
organizations. Today (March 1), Hayhoe was named Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy
(TNC), a worldwide organization that uses science to tackle the issues of conservation
and climate change through real-world solutions and partnerships that influence global
“I’ve long admired The Nature Conservancy’s combination of mission-driven values,
science-based strategies and pragmatic, solutions-focused approaches to reconciling
the needs of human development with those of the wider ecosystems of which we are
all part,” Hayhoe said. “With a year of major climate and environmental policy moments
ahead, effective science communication has never been more important. Being invited
to represent and steer TNC’s research at a global level is the opportunity of a lifetime,
and I cannot wait to get started.”
As part of her role with TNC, Hayhoe also will take responsibility for the Conservancy’s
wider portfolio of global climate advocacy and adaptation work. This is critical with
the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, just eight
“With Glasgow calling, and the need for concerted global leadership on climate change
never greater, Katharine joins The Nature Conservancy at the perfect time,” said Jennifer
Morris, CEO of TNC. “As the climate emergency and biodiversity loss continue to affect
our health, economies and very way of life, Katharine doesn’t see these challenges
as ‘environmental issues,’ but rather, ‘everything issues.’ And she’s right. As we
race to address these interrelated crises, Katharine’s ability to galvanize audiences
beyond the usual environmental bubble couldn’t be more important. Her impeccable academic
record, energetic leadership and grounded optimism will help motivate us all into
action for this critical decade ahead. We are thrilled to welcome her as our new Chief
One June 1, Hayhoe will begin her new appointment and step down as the co-director
of the Texas Tech University Climate Center. Established in 2011, the Climate Center includes more than 50 faculty affiliates
across a variety of disciplines and every Texas Tech college who work at the intersection
of climate, people, and conservation. Climate Center faculty and students conduct
interdisciplinary research to address the effects of climate change within Texas,
the south-central U.S. and the world in partnership with the U.S. Department of Interior’s
South-Central Climate Adaptation Science Center, for which Hayhoe is a co-principal
A recently named Horn Distinguished Professor and Endowed Chair of Public Policy and
Public Law in the Department of Political Science at Texas Tech University, Hayhoe’s research focuses on evaluating future impacts of climate change on human
society and the natural environment by developing and applying high-resolution climate
projections. She also presents the realities of climate change by connecting the issue
to values people hold dear and positive, constructive solutions.
In 2019, she was named by the Smithsonian Institute’s Board of Regents to the advisory board of the National Museum
of Natural History in Washington, D.C., as well as a Champion of the Earth by the United Nations. The previous year, she was presented with the eighth annual Stephen H. Schneider
Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication from Climate One.
In 2017 and 2018, Hayhoe participated in the Nobel Peace Prize forum and gave a TED
Talk on climate solutions that has received almost 4 million views.
Hayhoe’s reach, however, goes far beyond her work at Texas Tech. There is a global
audience for her KTTZ PBS Digital Short Series “Global Weirding,” an online series that explores the arguments, science, religion, culture and psychology
where politics and climate change intersect. She is also author of the forthcoming
book with Simon & Schuster, “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World,” which looks at how all of us can, and must, play a role in saving our future.
Hayhoe earned her bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy from the University of
Toronto and her master’s and doctoral degrees in atmospheric science from the University