Distinguished geochemist among honorees at Science Spring 2015 Convocation

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Today, the Faculty of Science held its 110th Convocation ceremony to celebrate the achievements of four highly distinguished honorees and 779 graduating students.

Feridun and BroeckerDr. Wallace Broecker (middle), Newberry Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth Sciences at Columbia University, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree at today’s morning convocation ceremony.

Professor Sherry Schiff introduced Broecker as someone “who woke up the scientific world”.

A true pioneer, Broecker is arguably one of the most accomplished living geochemists. For more than half a century, his research has refined what we know about the ocean’s effects on climate change.

In fact he was first to sound the alarm about global warming nearly 40 years ago in the August 8, 1975 issue of Science.

In addition to fathering the concept of abrupt climate change, Broecker was the first to use carbon 14 and other tracers to identify the ocean conveyor belt, the system of thermohaline currents that moves water around the globe. Disturb this ocean circulation pattern and dramatic changes in the Earth’s climate will result.

Broecker’s message to the graduates was a thought-provoking one. In fact, he reminded us that it’s this latest generation of graduates that will have to do what previous generations have put off regarding fossil fuels and atmospheric CO2.

I don’t think most people know the immensity of this problem and how little has happened to get to the roots of it,” said Broecker. “We have no rational plan.”

According to Broecker, drastic changes to our energy infrastructure, large-scale carbon sequestration and the addition of SO2 to the upper atmosphere are just some of the solutions – politically popular or not – that we will have to consider.

But we can’t wait,” emphasized Broecker. “You are the generation that will have the big responsibility.”

President Feridun Hamdullahpur and Bill TaylorAdditionally, Earth and Environmental Science Chair William Taylor was awarded the title Distinguished Professor Emeritus in recognition of his exceptional service and contributions to Waterloo Science.

Professor Bill Taylor was originally appointed to the Department of Biology as a faculty member in 1981. He served as Biology’s Department Chair and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies as well as Associate Dean of Research.

His research on surface water eutrophication, specifically lakes in changing environmental conditions, has had a profound impact on issues related to human health and the economy. He has also been an inspiring and effective teacher and mentor for numerous students at all levels.

More details about today’s events and honorees can be found on the Faculty of Science website.

Congratulations honorees and all Earth and Environmental Science graduates!