Sybil Seitzinger, director of the International Geosphere Biosphere Program, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Career: International Geosphere-Biosphere Program, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Small of stature, Sybil Seitzinger ’82 is renowned for her big ideas and big ambitions. As her doctoral advisor, the late Oceanography Professor Scott Nixon once said, when she first came to the University, Seitzinger could have been a poster child for thinking big. Now, she’s an international leader investigating the causes and consequences of environmental change, and it was her doctoral work in oceanography at URI that provided the strong foundation for her 30-year career.
When she began her work at URI, she really wanted to think about the science she was studying from a global perspective, but her advisor suggested she start locally and not try to understand the whole world from the beginning. She says that was great advice.
“My studies at the Graduate School of Oceanography also gave me the opportunity to take courses in engineering, soil science, and many other subjects on the Kingston Campus. These studies gave me a very broad background that has been fundamental in the course of my career,” she said.
“Now I’m director of the International Geosphere Biosphere Program, which is a big name but basically it’s a network of scientists around the world who are studying global environmental change. They’re studying the oceans; they’re studying change on land, and changes in the atmosphere. It’s a network of scientists and universities who come together and share their information and develop common research agendas and then try and move forward on those together so that we get a really global perspective.”
She said that there is some very interesting information emerging about the importance of atmospheric chemistry, air pollutants and climate. These findings are vital to understanding what policies should or could be put into place to reduce atmospheric pollution and its negative human health affects.
Now, after starting locally, Seitzinger is at the point when she’s really able to study all of the science from that bigger, global perspective.