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UC San Diego Top Institution in United States for Environmental and Earth Sciences

Science journal Nature ranks campus fourth-leading institution in the world based on published research


  • Robert Monroe

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  • Robert Monroe

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Image: the journal Nature Climate Change Oct 2015 cover

Study led by Scripps Oceanography’s Shang-Ping Xie was the cover story in the Oct. 2015 issue of the journal Nature Climate Change.

The journal Nature ranked UC San Diego first in the United States and fourth worldwide in earth and environmental research in a new survey that rated institutions based on their total contribution to studies published in major science journals.

UC San Diego placed behind the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the French National Centre for Scientific Research, and the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers, which took the top three spots in that order. Rounding out the top 10 were NOAA, NASA, the California Institute of Technology, University of Washington, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Zurich, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

“This ranking validates our recent strategic planning efforts that identify Understanding and Protecting the Planet as one of four key research themes for UC San Diego,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Earth and environmental science at UC San Diego is led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, in close collaboration with other departments at UC San Diego, including the Jacobs School of Engineering, the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the School of Medicine, and the departments of Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences. As a result, we are investing in eight new joint faculty hires, which will allow us to advance our interdisciplinary strengths in this area of research. The ranking also challenges and inspires us to maintain and build on the excellence across UC San Diego.”

“This ranking is a wonderful validation of our mission to understand and protect our home planet,” said Scripps Oceanography Director Margaret Leinen. “We are proud to be among the leaders of a research community that has taken on the task of investigating areas of science that have profound implications for society and its ability to preserve natural resources for the benefit of future generations. We note that many of the environmental agencies that fund us are also prominent on the list. They play a key role in making our research possible.”

Two major private gifts to Scripps recognize the importance of leveraging the excellence reflected in the journal’s ranking. In March, Robert and Allison Price, through Price Philanthropies, donated $6 million to UC San Diego’s Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The gift will establish the Price Philanthropies Ocean Science Education Fund, an education outreach program in ocean and earth science. In August, Richard and Carol Dean Hertzberg made $5 million gift to Scripps to establish the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation, which will draw on expertise throughout the UC San Diego campus to create practical solutions to climate change effects already taking place or anticipated.

“The ranking of UC San Diego and Scripps as first in the U.S. and fourth in the world for earth and environmental studies by Nature is recognition of the extraordinary work done by its faculty, staff and students,” said Richard Hertzberg. “We are all lucky to have UC San Diego in our community working on global challenges that will impact all of us far into the future. Scripps has earned its ranking and is truly the most expert doctor for our planet.”

The journal used a formula to rank research institutions that took into account the total number of times their researchers appeared as authors of articles in top science journals. Rankings were weighted based on how many researchers from an institution contributed to an article. Nature has made details of its methodology and list of the science journals in the Nature Index website.

UC San Diego finished as the 14th overall institution in the world in all science categories combined. Besides environmental and earth science, Nature also ranked institutions in life sciences, chemistry, and physical sciences. UC San Diego ranked eighth in life sciences research, 34th in physical sciences, and 37th in chemistry.

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