Piers Sellers Prize


In 2016, the Priestley International Centre for Climate established two annual prizes in the name of the renowned climate scientist, astronaut and Leeds alumnus, Piers Sellers, to recognise exceptional research that furthers our understanding of climate change and how to address it.

The inaugural prizes were awarded at the Priestley Centre launch event on 14 June 2016 and you can find out more about the winners here.

These prizes have been funded through generous donations to the Footsteps Fund by alumni and friends of the University of Leeds.

Exceptional PhD research

This prize is designed to reward and encourage current PhD students from the University of Leeds1 for undertaking excellent research to better understand and/or address climate change. The award provides £1500 to attend an international conference of their choice.

Nominations should be made by University of Leeds staff (supervisors and group leaders). Please note self-nominations are no longer accepted.

Nominations will be assessed by the judging panel made up of the Priestley Centre Management Committee on the basis of one or more high quality publications (not limited to peer-reviewed journal publications, and including those accepted but yet to be published), research outputs and/or impact resulting from the nominee’s PhD research.

Deadline for nominations is 5 February 2018.

Nomination forms will be posted here shortly.

1 Current PhD students can include those who have passed their viva but are yet to attend their graduation ceremony.

World leading contribution to solution-focused climate research

The Piers Seller prize for a world leading contribution to solution-focused climate research will be awarded to a world leading researcher or research team (not limited to the University of Leeds) on the basis of their contribution to solution-focused climate research. A shortlist of nominees will be drawn-up by the judging panel based on recent high impact journal publications, research outputs or impact.

The recipient(s) will be invited to the Priestley Centre annual event to provide a keynote speech and receive the award of £1000.

Nominations are restricted to the judging panel for this award.

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About Piers Sellers

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In June 2016, the Priestley Centre established the Piers Sellers Prize in the name of Piers John Sellers – Leeds alumnus, renowned climate scientist, astronaut and Deputy Director of the Sciences and Exploration Directorate and Acting Director of the Earth Sciences Division at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

When the Priestley Centre launched in June 2016, Piers Sellers sent a video message in which he said: “I love Leeds University and I am still in awe of the reach and spirit of the place ….”

After receiving a doctorate in biometeorology from the University of Leeds in 1981, Piers moved to the US to work at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center researching the interaction between the Earth’s biosphere and atmosphere. Piers joined the astronaut corps and was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1996. A veteran of three space flights and six spacewalks, Piers has logged just under 35 days in space. As serving Deputy Director of the Science and Exploration Directorate, Piers oversees research and mission design for the space and Earth sciences, including climate. Piers has been awarded the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award (1994); Arthur Fleming Award (1995); Fellow of AGU (1996); AMS Houghton Award (1997); Fellow of AMS (1997); Officer of the British Empire (OBE) for services to science (2011); Space Foundation 2017 General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award (2017).

Piers Sellers sadly passed away on Friday 23 December 2016 in Houston from pancreatic cancer.

As an astronaut I spacewalked 220 miles above the Earth…. From this God’s-eye-view, I saw how fragile and infinitely precious the Earth is. I am hopeful for its future.’

(Piers Sellers, New York Times, January 2016)

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