18:00 PM

Climate Expert Named To Head Ohio State's Byrd Center

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ellen Mosley-Thompson, an acclaimed polar scientist and University Distinguished Scholar in geography at Ohio State University, has been named the next director of the institution’s Byrd Polar Research Center.

Mosley-Thompson, who along with her husband and research partner Lonnie Thompson, is considered one of the world’s leading experts on paleoclimatology, the study of ancient climates.  Their work on ice cores retrieved from glaciers and ice caps on at least five continents has provided the clearest evidence to date of global climate change and the effects humans have had on it.

Ellen Mosley-Thompson

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, she will assume her new post October 1.  The Byrd Center is a world-class research facility focusing on polar science.  It is the only such center devoted to studies of both the north and south polar regions, as well as high-altitude ice fields around the globe.

"We are indeed fortunate that Dr. Mosley-Thompson will lead the Byrd Polar Research Center," said Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee.  "Her many research accomplishments, as well as her global reputation as a leading scholar in this field, will further strengthen one of the University's great centers of research and outreach."

“Ellen is the perfect person to provide leadership in strengthening existing research programs, developing new research areas and encouraging collaborative activities within the center and the university,” explained Caroline Whitacre, vice president for research at Ohio State.

“Her being named as Byrd’s new director is a well-deserved recognition of her accomplishments as a scholar and her ability to foster new research.”

Mosley-Thompson’s career at Ohio State began in 1973 as a graduate student, and later as a research associate at the former Institute of Polar Studies.  Over the decades, she became a research scientist at the renamed Byrd Center and served first as an associate professor and then a professor in the Department of Geography.

An experienced field researcher, she has led eight expeditions to Antarctica and six to Greenland to retrieve cores from the ice sheets there, cores that yielded records of climate records spanning thousands of years.

“Ellen is the perfect person to provide leadership in strengthening existing research programs, developing new research areas and encouraging collaborative activities within the center and the university.”

“This is a challenging time for all research centers, but Byrd Polar has thrived at Ohio State for 50 years. I am confident our outstanding research scientists, post-docs and students will continue to make significant and lasting contributions to the scientific and societal challenges of the 21st century,” Mosley-Thompson said.

“A key goal for me is to see that the Byrd Polar Research Center supports their efforts. I also want to enhance the Byrd Center’s efforts to disseminate our knowledge and share the excitement of scientific inquiry with the general public and learners at all levels.” This year, she was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, one of that organization’s highest honors, and received the David R. Brower Award for Outstanding Service in Mountain Conservation from the American Alpine Club.

In 2008, she and her husband were named as recipients of the Dan David Prize in Israel honoring their work in the geosciences.  Former Vice President Al Gore received a Dan David Prize that same year.  In 2003, she was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2002, she and Lonnie Thompson received the Common Wealth Award for Science and Invention, recognizing distinguished service to the world community.

She is a member of the National Research Council’s-National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Strategic Advice on the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.  In 2009, she was named to the Science Advisory Board’s Climate Working Group for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  She is a member of the editorial board for the journal Polar Geography.

She is a member of the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, the Association of American Geographers, the International Glaciological Society, the American Philosophical Society and the science honorary, Sigma Xi.  She has published at least 115 peer-reviewed scientific papers in her career.


Contact:  Ellen Mosley-Thompson, (614) 292-6662; Thompson.4@osu.edu Written by Earle Holland, (614) 292-8384; Holland.8@osu.edu.