Stony Brook lands climate-change ace for SoMAS

Friendly skies: Distinguished climate-change scientist Paul Shepson (right, aboard his ALAR with Purdue chemistry professor Kerri Pratt) is on final approach to Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

An internationally renowned expert in climate-change science has been tapped to run Stony Brook University’s marine and atmospheric science programs.

Paul Shepson, currently a distinguished professor of chemistry and of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences at Purdue University, has been named dean of SBU’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

Shepson, who also serves as the division director for atmospheric and geospace sciences at the National Science Foundation, was selected after a lengthy national search, SBU announced Monday. His tenure as SoMAS dean is slated to begin July 2.

A former professor of chemistry at York University in Toronto, and director of that university’s York Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry, Shepson joined the Purdue University facility in 1994 and rose to become head of Purdue’s Department of Chemistry, while serving as the founding director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center.

Climate change will continue to be a main focus of the scientist’s work at the SoMAS, SUNY’s designated school for marine and atmospheric research, education and public service and one of the world’s leading coastal oceanography institutions.

The SoMAS maintains several programs and research efforts aimed at improving regional and global climates. The school is home to SUNY’s Institute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres, the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, the Institute for Particle-Related Environmental Processes, the Living Marine Resources Institute, the Waste Reduction and Management Institute and Long Island Groundwater Research Institute.

Paul Shepson: Climate king.

Its new dean boasts a “unique blend of public service administration, scientific research, higher education scholarship and administration,” noted SBU Provost and Chief Academic Officer Michael Bernstein, who called Shepson’s arrival “a real advantage for our students and faculty.”

“His distinguished career in the field of atmospheric sciences and his passion for understanding and communicating about climate change and its impacts and related constructive problem-solving will help elevate our already distinguished School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences to greater heights,” Bernstein said in a statement.

Shepson, who also logged a short stint with the Mobil Oil Corp. (now ExxonMobil) and a longer one with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Atmospheric Science Research Laboratory in North Carolina, focuses his scientific research on issues related to the exchange of gases between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere in various settings, ranging from the Arctic and coastal marine environments to forests and urban environments.

His cutting-edge research often involves unusual platforms from which to study the atmosphere, including tethered balloons, ice-tethered buoys and the Airborne Laboratory for Atmospheric Research, a twin-engine Beechcraft Duchess Light that serves as his team’s private research aircraft.

The scientist’s arrival at SBU completes a State University of New York full circle: A native of Elmira in upstate Chemung County, Shepson obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at SUNY Cortland, before earning a PhD in analytical/atmospheric chemistry from Pennsylvania State University.

All told, Shepson – a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science – has authored or co-authored more than 215 scientific publications.