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Climate Science Researcher Named Chair of OEAS Department

Rodger Harvey

H. Rodger Harvey, who leads an organic geochemistry and ecology laboratory at the University of Maryland and is a noted climate change researcher, has been named the chair of Old Dominion University's Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (OEAS) effective in December.

The dean of the ODU College of Sciences, Chris Platsoucas, presented the new chair to the department's faculty and other members of the college during Harvey's visit to the campus last week. The university's Board of Visitors approved Harvey's appointment in September.

"Professor Harvey is a distinguished educator and researcher, and is an excellent addition to our faculty," Platsoucas said. Harvey has received $5.5 million in external research awards over the past decade.

A veteran researcher in climate science, Harvey directs the Maryland Organic Geochemistry and Ecology Laboratory, which is part of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory of the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). He has worked at UMCES since 1989 and has been a full professor since 2000.

He received the University System of Maryland Regents' Faculty Award for Research, Scholarship and Creativity in 2009.

Research interests for Harvey span a range of topics but focus on organic geochemistry and biogeochemistry in marine waters. Much of his research has examined the origin, transformation and fate of both natural and man made organic compounds in aquatic environments and their links with climate.

His work in the polar oceans has made him the colleague over the years of several ODU oceanographers, including John Klinck, the director of ODU's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography, and two other ODU oceanography professors, Eileen Hofmann and Dennis Darby.

"I'm fortunate to have known a lot of the ODU oceanography faculty," Harvey said. "This is certainly one of the things that attracted me here. When you are working with dedicated people, life is good."

He said that ODU, with a strong oceanography faculty and with its location near the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, is positioned well to be a leader in coastal climate change research. "I see our opportunities as twofold," he explained. "The department can provide the objective scientific leadership to understand what is happening and what will likely happen. And we also can educate students who will be living this issue in the future."

Harvey has authored more than 70 publications in the primary literature, most recently exploring topics related to rapid climate change in the Arctic. For more than a decade, his research group has studied organic carbon and the impact of changing climate on carbon cycling in the polar oceans.

Harvey also has more local interests. A fascinating facet of the work involves the use of biochemical approaches to provide age estimates for crustaceans such as blue crabs, which replace their exoskeleton each time they molt and don't have the bones, scales, mollusk shells or teeth that reveal the age of many aquatic creatures. Knowing the age range of a crustacean population is fundamental to understanding the population's ecological role, such as in food web dynamics in changing marine ecosystems.

Harvey received his bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from Virginia Tech and his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Georgia.

Richard Zimmerman, who has been the OEAS chair for eight years, will stay with the department as a professor and head of the Bio-optical Research Group.

This article was posted on: October 13, 2010

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