a head shot of Joel Thornton
Joel Thornton

The UW College of the Environment is pleased to announce that Professor Joel Thornton has agreed to serve for a five-year term as director of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, effective July 1, 2022.

Thornton is an atmospheric scientist who studies the impacts of human activities on air quality and climate through changes to the atmosphere’s composition and chemistry. His focus is on the processes which regulate the formation and removal of short-lived greenhouse gasses such as methane and ozone, and the formation and growth of airborne particulate matter. He also has extensive leadership experience within the Department and the College, serving as the Department’s Graduate Program Coordinator, representing the Department as a Faculty Senator and serving on the Program on the Environment Advisory Board.

The Search Committee highlighted the overall high level of satisfaction of respondents in being a member of the Atmospheric Sciences community and noted that common descriptors used for the Department culture were “collaborative,” “collegial,” “supportive,” “cooperative,” “dynamic,” “excellent breadth and depth,” and “high caliber research.” In particular, they noted that students expressed a feeling that they were being empowered to excel.

“I was pleased to see that there is justifiable pride in the Department’s reputation and I look forward to working with Joel and all of you to help maintain the excellence of the Department within a culture that welcomes and supports all faculty, postdocs, staff and students,” said Dean Maya Tolstoy.

The members of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences Advisory Search Committee are: J. Michael Brown, Professor in Earth and Space Sciences (Chair), Terrie Klinger, Professor in the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, Fred Averick, Assistant Director of the Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Studies and Lyatt Jaeglé, Professor in Atmospheric Sciences.

“Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank Cecilia Bitz for her service as the outgoing Chair,” said Tolstoy. “Cecilia has held this role since 2019 and in the short time I have worked with her, I have appreciated her insightful and thoughtful leadership, and her commitment to maintaining the strength of the department, including advocating for the whole community – students, post-docs, faculty and staff.”