Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Founding Director and Chairman, International Advisory Board, Environment and Sustainability Initiative
Charles F. Kennel was educated in astronomy and astrophysics at Harvard and Princeton. After a post-doctoral year at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, he joined the UCLA Department of Physics and its Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics. There he pursued research and teaching in theoretical space plasma physics and astrophysics, eventually chairing the Physics Department. In 1988, he was on leave as a Fairchild Scholar at CalTech and a visiting professor at Princeton. He served as UCLA’s Executive Vice Chancellor, its chief academic officer, from 1996 to 1998.
While at UCLA, Kennel was a consultant to TRW Systems (now Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems), where he participated in numerous satellite experiments, most notably the Voyager missions to the outer planets. From 1994 to 1996, Kennel was Associate Administrator at NASA and Director of Mission to Planet Earth, the world’s largest Earth science research program. Kennel’s experiences at NASA converted him to Earth and climate science, and he has devoted the rest of his career to these fields. He became the ninth Director and Dean of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Vice Chancellor of Marine Sciences at the University of California, San Diego, serving from 1998 to 2006. Dr. Kennel was the founding director of the UCSD Environment and Sustainability Initiative. He presently is Distinguished Professor, emeritus, of Atmospheric Sciences at Scripps, and senior strategist for the UCSD Sustainability Solutions Institute.
In the international arena, Kennel has had visiting appointments to the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (Trieste), the University of Trieste, Ecole Polytechnique (Paris), and the Space Research Institutes in Moscow, USSR, and Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil. During winter terms 2007 and 2010 and 2012, he was a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He was the 2007 C.P. Snow lecturer at Christ’s College. He had University visiting appointments with the Cambridge Department of Engineering in 2007 and with the Centre for Energy Studies of the Judge Business School in 2010. With Professor Paul Linden of Cambridge, he co-leads a team working with the Venice Gates project on sustainable management of the Venice lagoon and participates in the UCSD-Cambridge global water initiative. He recently co-organized two special sessions of the Kyoto Forum on Science and Technology in Society devoted to the natural and social impacts of regional climate change.
Kennel is presently on the Boards of the Cisco Systems’ Planetary Skin Institute, the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, the UCLA Institute of the Environment, the Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the University of Alaska Geophysical Institute. He was a member of the National Science and Technology Council and the international Committee on Earth Observation Satellites while at NASA; at Scripps, he co-founded the Partnership for the Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO), and was a member of the Pew Oceans Commission. He has chaired the US National Academy’s Board on Physics and Astronomy and its Committee on Global Change Research. He has served a total of 11 years on the NASA Advisory Council, chairing it from 2000-2005, and was a member of the Presidential (“Augustine”) Commission on human space flight in 2009. Kennel remains on the NASA Advisory Council and chairs the Space Studies Board of the US National Academy of Sciences.
For the State of California, he was a member of the founding board of the California Climate Action Registry, the first chairman of the California Ocean Sciences Trust, and the chair of the California Council on Science and Technology. He recently co-chaired a study, “Innovate to Innovation”, which the California Council undertook at the request of the legislature.
Kennel is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the International Academy of Astronautics. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has been awarded the James Clerk Maxwell Prize (American Physical Society), the first Hannes Alfven Prize (European Geophysical Union), the Aurelio Peccei Prize (Accademia Lincei, Rome), and the NASA Distinguished Service and Distinguished Public Service Medals. He has been a Fulbright Senior Lecturer, and a Sloan and Guggenheim Foundation Fellow.
Kennel served as CCST Council Chair from 2008 through 2010.