Joellen Russell’s Appointment Extended as Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Chair in Integrative Science

May 19, 2022


Dr. Joellen Russell’s appointment as the Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Chair in Integrative Science has been extended five years.

Dr. Russell is an oceanographer, climate scientist, and Distinguished Professor at the University of Arizona. She joined the UArizona faculty in 2006 and has joint appointments in the Departments of Geosciences, Planetary Sciences, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, and Mathematics in the College of Science.

“I am delighted and honored to contribute to the legacy of Thomas R. Brown through my research on the ocean’s role in climate using robot floats, supercomputers, and satellites,” Dr. Russell said. “UArizona graduates were a key part of Burr-Brown’s successful business model, and we’ve continued that tradition by making our desert home a launch pad for top-notch oceanography and climate scientists around the country and the world. Our research, creative support for undergraduates, and local outreach are part of a renewed focus on what we Arizonans can do to predict, mitigate, and adapt to climate change – and are all part of ongoing efforts to serve our community in the tradition of Thomas R. Brown. I am committed to ensuring that this additional five years of support will provide lasting value to our community in southern Arizona and across the nation in our fight against climate change.”

Dr. Russell’s research on the westerly winds led to the creation of a new paradigm in climate science, namely that warmer climates produce poleward intensified westerly winds. This insight solved one of the long-standing climate paradoxes, the mechanism responsible for transferring one-third of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into the ocean and then back out again during our repeated glacial-interglacial cycles. Dr. Russell is one of the 14 scientists who wrote the climate science amicus curiae brief cited in the landmark Supreme Court decision of Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency that ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant covered under the Clean Air Act and must be regulated by the EPA.

“Funding for this chair was made possible by the Thomas R. Brown Foundation in honor of Thomas R. Brown, co-founder of the Burr-Brown Corporation, who demonstrated the power of science and engineering to advance humanity,” said Dr. Carmala Garzione, College of Science Dean. “We are fortunate to now have two Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Chairs in Integrative Science in the College of Science – Drs. Jessica Tierney and Joellen Russell. The faculty appointed to these chairs are recognized for their innovative and integrative research to address global climate challenges that impact people. Dr. Russell is a leading expert in the ocean's role in the carbon cycle and how the oceans both store and release CO2, a greenhouse gas that influences global temperature. She has been a long-standing advocate for climate action, and her research and outreach are contributing to CO2 mitigation from the levels of individual action to policy change.”

Dr. Russell is the co-chair of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Science Advisory Board Climate Working Group and chair of UArizona Research Computing Governance Committee. She is the lead for the modeling theme of the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling project including its Southern Ocean Model Intercomparison Project, in active collaboration with colleagues at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

“The Department of Geosciences is so pleased Dr. Russell will continue her work as a Brown Chair,” said Dr. Barbara Carrapa, Professor and Department Head of Geosciences at UArizona. “Dr. Russell is a leading oceanographer whose innovative approach has led to important and significant discoveries, which have improved our understanding of the role oceans play in affecting climate. Dr. Russell has also been instrumental in educating the public on issues related to climate change. For all these reasons, she is fully deserving of this prestigious award.”

Among her many notable accolades, Dr. Russell has served on the UA Faculty Senate, the Honors Faculty Advisory Council and is a cofounder of the College of Science’s Women in STEM Leadership. She is an executive committee member of the UArizona Space Institute, an executive committee member of the Applied Math Graduate Interdisciplinary Program (GIDP), and a faculty member of the Global Change GIDP. She received her A.B. in Environmental Geoscience from Harvard and her PhD in Oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego.

“Joellen Russell is brilliant, focused, and dedicated to understanding the drivers of climate change,” said Sarah Smallhouse, President of the Thomas R. Brown Foundations. “Our trustees are deeply impressed with her research and how she communicates its significance for all of us. It is essential society pays close attention to scientists like Dr. Russell if we are to navigate the future intelligently.”

To learn more about the Thomas R. Brown Foundations, please click here.