Mason Trailblazer: Edward Maibach

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Edward Maibach is one of the most influential scientists working on climate change. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services

George Mason University’s Edward Maibach is one of the most influential scientists working on climate change.

In 2021, Maibach, the director of Mason's Center for Climate Change Communication, 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 was identified as #2.

Also in 2021, the organization Climate One honored Maibach and Leiserowitz with its Stephen H. Schneider Award, which is 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.

In 2018, he was appointed a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2020 the university recognized Maibach with one of its Presidential Awards for Faculty Excellence, the Beck Family Medal for Excellence in Research and Scholarship. A member of Mason’s Institute for a Sustainable Earth and University Professor in the Department of Communication in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Maibach 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 psychological factors that influence public engagement, and the cultivation of trusted voices such as TV weathercasters and health professionals as effective climate educators.

Maibach came to Mason in 2007 to create the Center for Climate Change Communication. Now in its 15th year, the center has been studying public perceptions of climate change issues and identifying effective ways to engage the public and other stakeholders on those issues. The center's national public opinion polls conducted with Yale have consistently been featured in major media outlets throughout the country and have helped monitor attitudes and awareness about the climate crisis for more than a decade.

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 can improve it.

Recently, he began working with Mason colleagues, including Jim Kinter, director of the Mason's Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, to help the university stand up the new Virginia Climate Center, which will serve as a climate extension service for communities in the commonwealth to increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change.

Listen to Maibach discuss the climate change misinformation war with President Gregory Washington on the Access to Excellence podcast