Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Congratulations to Mark Cane & Terry Plank who, along with 82 other distinguished scientists, were elected as new members to the National Academy of Sciences this week.  The NAS is the country’s most prestigious scientific organization, and election to membership in the academy is one of the highest honors that can be accorded a scientist or engineer in the United States.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars established by an Act of Congress and signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers to membership in the NAS for outstanding contributions to research. The NAS is committed to furthering science in America, and its members are active contributors to the international scientific community. Nearly 500 members of the NAS have won Nobel Prizes, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, founded in 1914, is today one of the premier international journals publishing the results of original research.”

Professor Mark Cane is G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) and a professor of earth and environmental sciences and applied physics and applied mathematics. Cane is also the founder of the Master of Arts program in Climate and Society in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.  He is perhaps most notably recognized in the international scientific community for the first-ever ENSO-predicting computer model that he developed in collaboration with his student Steve Zebiak.  The Cane-Zebiak model accurately predicted two El Niño events in a row, in 1986 and 1991, more than a year out. The ability to predict an El Niño has revolutionized seasonal and long-term climate forecasting, allowing people to prepare for drought or heavy rain depending on where they live.

Terry Plank is a Professor in the Dept of Earth & Environmental Sciences and research scientist in geochemistry at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory whose research is focused on magmas associated with the plate tectonic cycle. Plank is best known for her work on all aspects of subduction, from the seafloor of the incoming plate, to mineral reactions that occur in the downgoing plate, to the generation of magma in the mantle and its eruption from volcanoes.  In particular, she has determined the global chemical flux in subducting sediments, developed proxies for temperature in the subducting plate and mantle, and quantifed the water that gets recycled from the subducting seafloor to explosive eruption. Plank has drilled the oldest oceanic crust on the seafloor, studied explosive eruptions at Guatemala’s Volcán Fuego and Hawaii’s Kilauea, and collaborated with geophysicists and experimentalists to explore the chemical and physical forces deep below volcanoes.

The NAS made the announcement on April 30, 2013 naming 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 14 countries in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the National Academy of Sciences, President Obama spoke at the NAS annual meeting on Monday, April 29 in Washington, D.C.

Previous members elected from the Dept of Earth & Environmental Sciences include Sean Solomon, Wallace S. Broecker, Walter C. Pitman, III, Lynn R. Sykes, David Walker & Paul E. Olsen.

Congratulations Mark & Terry!