Three of the World’s Most Distinguished Climate Scientists to Receive Honorary Degrees from UMass Amherst

Thursday, October 10, 2013

AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst will confer honorary degrees on three of the world’s leading climate scientists and the Geosciences Department will unveil a lush new display of minerals in Morrill Hall as part of its Climate Science Symposium and Convocation on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18 and 19.

Events get under way with the convocation from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18 in Bowker Auditorium in Stockbridge Hall, followed by a reception. Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy will preside over the ceremony where honorary doctorate of science degrees will be awarded to:

  • André Berger of Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium, best known for his work on understanding how changes in Earth’s orbit led to the ice ages and for climate models he developed to study Earth history.

  • Dominique Raynaud of the Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Geophysique de l’Environnement, France, who has framed views of human-induced effects on the atmosphere by his research extracting gases from prehistoric polar ice cores. The work made it clear that greenhouse gas concentrations of today are unprecedented for hundreds of thousands of years.

  • Warren Washington of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colo., best known for his pioneering research in developing numerical models of the climate system. Also, as only the second African-American to earn a doctorate degree followed by a distinguished career in the atmospheric sciences, he has been a role model for generations of young researchers from many backgrounds.

Each honoree will give a brief presentation at this event, which is free and open to all.

On Saturday, Oct. 19, the Climate Science Symposium, free and open to the public, begins at 9 a.m. in the Integrated Sciences Building’s auditorium. It will feature talks by scientists who study modern climate systems as well as records of past climate change, including honorary degree recipients Berger, Raynaud and Washington, with talks and discussion of current research and developments by scientists from around New England and those associated with the UMass Climate System Research Center.

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Following the symposium, from 4 to 6 p.m. there will be a Laboratory Open House in Room 254 and Grand Opening of the Rausch Mineral Gallery in Room 243 of Morrill Hall. Marvin Rausch began teaching at UMass Amherst in 1963 and became a full professor in 1968. Before his death in May 2008, the leading researcher in organometallic chemistry gave some of his extensive mineral collection to UMass Amherst, and after his death a fellow collector made it possible for about 200 more specimens to be donated. This created one of the finest collections in the country, with many rare specimens. The collection includes sparkling amethysts, gleaming geodes and hundreds of other minerals.

Julie Brigham-Grette, professor of quaternary and glacial geology and Arctic paleoenvironments, notes that Rausch’s acquisitions are notable for their size and striking colors and fill eight cases and a window display.

“Now these beautiful minerals will have a suitable, public home where hundreds of students and the wider community will be able to marvel at them and enjoy their beauty,” she says. Former department chair Michael Williams adds, “These are eye-catching specimens. You can’t walk by and not have a look.”

Contact: Janet Lathrop 413/545-0444

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