Alley family establishes graduate scholarship in climate science

Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences Richard Alley and his family recently donated $100,000 to Penn State to create a new graduate scholarship. The Alley Family Graduate Scholarship in the Department of Geosciences will support future graduate students studying glaciology or climate science.

“The department is greatly appreciative of the generosity of Richard, Cindy and their family and their desire to give back to the students. This scholarship will assist us in recruiting the top graduate students who share Richard’s passion for unlocking the secrets of the climate system for years to come,” said Lee Kump, professor and head of Penn State’s Department of Geosciences.

Alley and his family decided to create the endowment after Alley received the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the category of climate change in January 2015, which included a generous monetary prize.

“I was honored to receive the award. We have an amazing team of students and faculty conducting glaciology and climate science research at Penn State, and my wife and I wanted to demonstrate the collaborative nature of our research team. Our graduate students are essential to our team, so we are always looking for ways to increase support for them. My family and I thought an endowment would be the perfect way to do that,” said Alley.

“Richard is a prolific researcher who is well deserving of the BBVA award, and we’re proud to have him in our college. We’re grateful that he and his family created an endowment for future geosciences graduate students,” said William Easterling, dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

Alley earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology from the Ohio State University and a doctorate, also in geology, from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has authored more than 250 publications and has received numerous other awards. He has served on numerous panels and committees related to climate change, such as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which jointly received the 2007 Nobel Prize with Al Gore Jr. Alley also hosted “Earth: The Operators’ Manual,” a series on climate change and its relationship with the Earth that originally aired on the Public Broadcasting System in 2011.

Geoscience and climate studies are important to the entire family.

Alley’s wife, Cindy, also has a bachelor of science in geology from the Ohio State University. Their older daughter, Janet, received a bachelor of arts in elementary and kindergarten education in 2010 and a master of education in earth sciences in 2015, both from Penn State, and teaches seventh grade science near Seattle. Their younger daughter, Karen, earned her bachelor of arts in geology from Colgate University and is pursuing a doctorate in geosciences at the University of Colorado in Boulder, studying Antarctic ice.

The Alleys are creating a similar scholarship for students at the State College Area High School, designed to support a student interested in glaciology or climate science.

Penn State's alumni and friends are invaluable partners in fulfilling the University's land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom; expand the research and teaching capacity of our faculty; enhance the University's ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty; and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. The University's colleges and campuses continue to enlist the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives. 

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Last Updated October 14, 2015