Walter C. Pitman III

Adjunct Professor
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Research Affiliation: 
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
117 Oceanography
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
(845) 365-8397
(845) 365-8156
Fields of interest: 
Sea-level change with regard to the sedimentary record, climate change and human history.

My route to a career in earth sciences was not typical. After graduating from Lehigh University with a degree in engineering physics, I found employment with an electronics firm. I was soon bored. However, the company was developing instrumentation related to submarine warfare, which introduced me to oceanography, which I found enormously intriguing. Upon inquiry to a well-known oceanographic institute, I was rewarded with an encouraging response and a list of universities with prominent oceanographic programs. I selected Columbia from the list and pursued a doctorate.

My years in graduate school and shortly thereafter coincided with a period of extraordinary advances in earth sciences. My thesis involved interpretation of marine magnetic anomalies, which proved to be the Rosetta Stone for deciphering the earth's tectonic history. Those exciting years were among the most enriching of my life, but I strongly feel that a career in research should not be confined to a narrow specialty. Earth sciences, in particular, offer continuing opportunities to expand one's horizons, not only in research, but also in the interaction of science with society and governmental policy. My current research interests involve past sea-level changes, both short- and long-term, their causes and their effects on the sedimentary record, climate change and human history.

B.A. & B.S.E.P.