B.Sc.,  Physics/Pure Math (University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia) 1969

M.Sc., Geophysics (University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia) 1971

Ph.D., Marine Geophysics (Columbia University, New York, New York, U.S.A) 1982

Research Advisor, Manik Talwani

Professional Experience

7/1/2005 – present Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University.

7/1/1991 – present Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University.

7/1/2009 – present Member of the Faculty of the Earth Institute of Columbia University

7/1/2009 –present Faculty Member, Environment and Energy Management and Policy, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University.

7/1/2008 –present Faculty Member, Economic and Political development, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University.

8/1/2009 – present Faculty Fellow Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP)

7/1/2008 – present Director of Graduate Studies PhD in Sustainable Development.

7/1/2004 – present Director of the Earth Institute Post-doctoral Fellows program

1/1/2003 – 6/30/07 Deputy Director, the Earth Institute of Columbia University

12/1/00 –  6/30/07 Associate Vice Provost Columbia Earth Institute of Columbia University

12/1/00 – 2/28/03 Executive Deputy Director, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

5/1/99 – 11/30/00 Interim Director, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

1/1/99 –  4/30/99 Executive Deputy Director, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia


9/1/96 – 12/31/98 Deputy Director, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

3/1/94 – 8/31/96 Interim Director, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

1/1/94 – 4/30/99 Director of Research, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

1/1/93 – 2/28/94 Associate Director, Division of Geophysics and Geology, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University.

7/1/89 – 7/1/1991 Senior Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty-Geological Observatory of Columbia University.

7/89 – 6/91 Adjunct Associate Professor of Geology, Columbia University.

7/87 – 6/89 Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University.

7/84 – 6/89 Adjunct Assistant Professor of Geology, Columbia University.

7/83 – 6/87 Associate Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University.

7/82 – 6/83 Research Associate, Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University.

1978 – 1982 Columbia University Faculty Fellow.

1970 – 1980 Geophysicist, Bureau of Mineral Resources, Canberra, A.C.T., Australia (promoted from Grades 1 through 3 between 1970 and 1976).

Research Interests

A central field of research is in the role of natural disasters in reducing or enhancing development opportunities, especially in poor and emerging societies.  How much of the global inequality in development status can be attributed to the particular burden that the poorest people face from natural extremes such as hurricanes and earthquakes?  Meteorological extremes are expected to increase as a result of human-induced climate change, and my work attempts to assess who are the most vulnerable to horrific natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina ( ). I also examines these questions through the lens of human rights, asking whether rights attainment can predict disaster outcomes, such as the response to Cyclone Nagris in Myanmar, and how the norms and principals of human rights can provide guidance for climate adaptation strategies.  The general theme of research follows the relationship between natural systems and human well-being, with particular focus on the vulnerability of poor societies to natural variations and extreme environmental conditions, as this could inform an understanding of the human response to natural changes at all scales and intensity.  I lead the Earth Institute’s partnership with the UNEP’s Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch, researching environmental degradation as both an outcome and driver of disasters and conflicts. I also work on understanding the underlying similarities natural disasters and armed conflict that go beyond the superficial imagery of the news media and speak to the development of underlying causes and the convergence of proximate triggers as climate change emerges as a common driver.

The other focus of my research is the use of marine seismology technologies to study processes in the formation of the earth’s crust and mantle at mid-ocean ridge and continental rift settings.  I studied active rifting in the Woodlark Basin off Papua New Guinea.  Much of the research from this study has been published but one paper remains in process.  I was chief scientist aboard the Marcus G. Langseth, conducting the first 3-D seismic imaging experiment of seafloor spreading at the East Pacific Rise ( ).  This study will reveal how magma rises from deep in the earth’s interior to create new crust and controls the distribution of biological communities at hydrothermal vent systems.  In the last two years we have presented numerous abstracts at the Fall AGU meeting and will have several papers in manuscript for in the Fall in anticipation of a renewal proposal in the Spring of 2011.

In March I participated in a crucial NSF sponsored workshop on “Challenges and Opportunities in Academic Marine Seismology” and contributed to the development of ideas through the workshop Wiki site and discussions at the meeting.

I am one of the principal investigators on the National Science Foundation-funded ADVANCE program (, which is designed to create institutional change that will improve the opportunities for women in earth science and engineering at Columbia.  The active period of this project has now been completed.

I recently convened two NSF-sponsored workshops;  “A Leadership Workshop to Meet the Challenge of Global Change” held in Washington DC, June 16-17th 2009 and prior to that an “Expert Roundtable on Research Priorities in Sustainable Development” held March 6, 2008.  Each of these is designed to set goals for future research directions in these emerging areas and could be influential in funding allocations. The latter is available at The outcome of the former is in the process of being developed into several publication including an op ed for a national newspaper.

Research cruises are described under a separate page titled Research cruises

Selected Memberships, Awards and Activities

(Those indicated with * are associated with position of Interim or Executive Deputy Director, Lamont)

(Those indicated with ** are associated with position of Deputy Director Earth Institute and/or Associate Vice Provost, Columbia)

† Alternate to President George Rupp

Member of the Executive Committee of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS)

Member of the Dean’s committee for a PhD in Global Public Policy, SIPA

Member of the Haiti Task Force for Columbia University and the Haiti regeneration Initiative.

Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2008

Member of the University Senate and Budget Review Committee; Chair of the sub-committee on undergraduate tuition.

Chair of the Steering Committee for the NSF Roundtable on Research Priorities in Sustainable Development.

Member 2008 Equator Prize Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for the UNDP

Member of the Advisory Board for Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development.

Panel member for NSF MG&G panel.

Member of the Associate Board of the Journal of Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness

Member Advisory Board of Cogito; an internet-based program from the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University.

Editor (with two others) Journal of Geophysical Research, Solid Earth 2005-2009; remaining emeritus with continuing duties.

Chair American Association for the Advancement of Science Section on Geology and Geography, 2006.

Chair of the Steering Committee for Columbia State of the Planet Conferences; five conferences 1999-2008.

Convener; Understanding Katrina Conference at Columbia University, November 2006.

Member Steering Committee Global Roundtable on Climate Change, Moderator of first delegates meeting, May 2005.

Co-Chair (with Gregg Moore) of the Steering Committee for the NSF sponsored workshop on Opportunities for 3D reflection seismology in Geoscience research, held at Lamont 2005. EOS_3d_Workshop.pdf

Director Earth Institute Post-doctoral Fellows Program, 2005 – present

Coordinate of Sciences for PhD in Sustainable Development in School of International and Public Affairs, 2004 – 2007

Co-chair with Mike Purdy of the Steering Committee for the Columbia 250th symposium on the Earth’s Future: Taming the Climate.

Member Praxair Corp Sustainability Council, June 2003-2007

Member, New York State Greenhouse Gas Task Force – July, 2001 – 2004

Co-Chair, Task Force – London School of Economics – Columbia collaboration – January, 2001 – present

Chair, Biosphere2 Executive Committee, July, 2002 – Dec 2003 **

Earth Institute Academic Committee Member ** – December 1, 2000 – Present

Chair, Earth institute Council of Directors **

Member Board of Directors, Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC) **

Member, Waldo E. Smith Medal Committee, July 1, 2000-June 30, 2002; Chair, July 1, 2002 – June 30,2004

†Hudson River Institute Strategic and Operations Planning Sub-Committee, 2000-Present

†Hudson River Institute full Advisory Committee, 2000-2003

Co-Chair, Lamont Planning Committee, 1999 – 2002

Member, Columbia University Library Information Systems Subcommittee, October, 1999-2002

Member, Rockland Economic Development Corp. Board, August, 1999

Co-Chair, Columbia Earth Institute Planning Committee. 1996-1999

Member, Columbia’s Government Relations Advisory Group

Member, Earthscape Advisory Board for Columbia University Press, 1997-Present

Member, Planning Committee for “Oceanography: The Making of a Science” colloquia series, supported by ONR and The Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment*

Member, Earth Institute Transition Team*

Member, Columbia University, DEES Planning Committee, September, 1999 – 2004

Columbia University Representative, JOIDES Executive Committee 1994-2002; presently alternate to M Purdy.

Columbia University Representative, CORE (Consortium for Ocean, Research and Education)* alternate to M Purdy

MARINE GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCHES, Editorial Board, July 1992-1998

GEOLOGY Editorial Board,  July 1991-June, 1994

JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, Associate Editor, 1985-1987

Member, Society of Exploration Geophysicists

Member, American Geophysical Union

Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Member, New York Academy of Science

Member, Sigma Xi

Member, American Geophysical Union, 1994 Federal Budget Panel

Lamont-Doherty representative to JOIDES Planning Committee, 1991-1996

Chairman, International Lithosphere Program, Working Group 4, “Nature and Evolution of the Oceanic Lithosphere” 1990-1992

Member U.S. Geodynamics Committee (USGC), Jan. 1991-June, 1993

Member Ewing medal selection committee for AGU, 1990-1994

Chairman, Columbia University Press, Advisory Committee on Geosciences  1989-1996

Member Columbia Univ. Press, Faculty Advisory Comm. on Publications, 1987-1996

Chairman, MARGINS Research Initiative Comm., Oceanic Studies Board, National Research Council, 1988-1994

Member JOIDES Lithosphere Panel 1986-1990

Steinbach Visiting Scholar, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, August, 1989

Steering Comm., JOI/USSAC Workshop on Drilling Oceanic Lower Crust & Mantle, March, 1989

Organizing Committee Member RIDGE (Ridge Interdisciplinary Global Experiments) Mapping and Sampling Workshop, 1988

Representative to National Oceanographic Reflection Profiling Org. (NORPO)  1986-1988

Co-Convenor Vertical Seismic Profiling Workshop for the Ocean Drilling Program, 1987, sponsored by JOI/USSAC

Member JOIDES North Atlantic Regional Panel 1984-1986

ARCO Research Fellow, 1984

Conoco Distinguished Lectures, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, April, 1984.

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