Alumni Honorees

Thomas R. KarlThomas R. Karl

B.S. Geography, 1973


Dr. Karl graduated cum laude from NIU’s meteorology program and subsequently earned an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and received a Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) from North Carolina State University. 

Since 1998, Karl has been Director of the National Climatic Data Center, which, as part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is responsible for archiving and maintaining the quality of national and international climate data bases. He has been leading all of NOAA’s climate services since early 2009.

In 2007 Karl along with other leading scientists shared in the Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Gore based on findings of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  In addition to lead roles in the development of the IPCC reports, Karl has made many significant contributions to research and scholarship in climatology. He has authored and co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, been an editor for numerous journals, and served on various committees of the American Meteorological Society. He is a Fellow of American Geophysical Union and of the American Meteorological Society and serves as President of the AMS.

From 1998 to 2001, Karl worked with the Clinton Administration, providing data used to develop its climate change policy. He was cited as one of the world’s 10 most influential researchers of the 1990s who have formed or changed the course of research in a given area.