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Wilkes Climate Summit 2023

The inaugural Wilkes Climate Summit, taking place on May 16-17, will bring together leading policymakers and nationally recognized scientists, foundations and innovators to discuss the most promising and cutting-edge solutions for climate change. The two-day event, hosted by the Wilkes Center for Climate Science & Policy, will feature keynotes and breakout sessions, as well as presentations by finalists for both the historic $1.5 million Wilkes Center Climate Prize at the University of Utah, and the U Wilkes Center Student Innovation Prize.

“The Wilkes Climate Summit is a venue for forward-thinkers to bring real climate solutions to the table,” said College of Science Dean Peter Trapa. “This event demonstrates the many ways that the Wilkes Center is making an impact on one of the defining issues of our time.”

The Wilkes Climate Summit is being held at the Cleone Peterson Eccles Alumni House at the University of Utah campus.

Find the full agenda with details on all speakers and panelists here.

Register for the event here.

Tuesday, May 16

How can different sectors accelerate climate solutions?

The summit’s first day will highlight the efforts to address climate issues by state, federal, entrepreneurial, philanthropic and non-governmental organizations fields. Some highlights include:

  • Morning keynote by Rob Jackson, the Michelle and Kevin Douglas provostial professor and senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University.
  • Wilkes Center Climate Prize at the University of Utah finalist presentations
    • The solutions-focused prize of $1.5 million is one of the largest university-affiliate climate awards in the world. The five finalists beat out international proposals and represent bold and inspiring ideas to address the impacts of climate change. The historic prize will be announced later this year.
  • The Wilkes Center Student Innovation Prize finalist presentations
    • All University of Utah students were eligible to submit proposals for their boldest ideas for tackling climate change. With $40,000 in total prizes on the line, the finalist will present their creative and innovative ideas that will change our world.
  • Afternoon keynote by Amy Leurs, global director of sustainability science at Microsoft.

Wednesday, May 17

How current innovations and science can inform policy decisions for wide-ranging areas.

The summit’s second day will focus on solutions to address immediate threats, including breakout panels on wildfires, health sciences, the future of water, impacts on vulnerable communities and more. Some highlights include:

  • Morning plenaries by Joseph Moore of Utah Forge, U.S. Department of Energy, and Kerry Case, chief sustainability officer at the University of Utah
  • Morning keynote by Brad Wilson, speaker of the Utah House of Representatives

Both days:

Wilkes Center-funded graduate and undergraduate students are invited to showcase their climate change-related research projects and compete for cash prizes. Summit attendees will have the chance to review student posters and vote for the research projects that they find the most compelling. Presenters are eligible to win a $1,500 first prize, $1,000 second prize, $500 third prize, plus two $500 people’s choice awards

“We’re incredibly excited to welcome a broad range of leaders in climate science and solutions to Utah, and the Wilkes Summit provides an extraordinary opportunity to showcase the research and innovation of the U,” said William Anderegg, director of the Wilkes Center and associate professor at the School of Biology at the U.

Please direct questions to Ross Chambless to