Environmental Leadership

October 1, 2007
Chameides: creating a new environment at the Nicholas School

Chameides: creating a new environment at the Nicholas School. Courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology

The environmental issues facing society are myriad and daunting, but they are tractable," says atmospheric chemist William L. Chameides. "They will require a new kind of professional, with an interdisciplinary approach and an understanding that spans the physical and biological sciences to the social sciences."

Chameides (pronounced shah MEE diss) will have the opportunity to define and train just that type of professional in his role as the new dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. Previously chief scientist for the nonprofit organization Environmental Defense and Regents' Professor Emeritus at the Georgia Institute of Technology, he took up his new post in September. He succeeded William H. Schlesinger, who stepped down in June to become president and director of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York.

During his more than thirty years in academe, Chameides has conducted research on chemical, physical, and biological processes that interact to shape the environment and sought to identify possible pathways toward sustainability. While at Georgia Tech, he moonlighted as chief scientist of the Southern Oxidants Study, a multi-institutional research program focused on understanding the causes and remedies for ground-level ozone pollution in the southern United States; as study director of CHINA-MAP, an international research program examining the effects of environmental change on agriculture in China; and as chair of the National Research Council's Committee on Air Quality Management in the United States. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow at the American Geophysical Union.

During a brief stint away from academe, beginning in 2005, Chameides served as chief scientist for Environmental Defense, advising the organization on scientific issues, overseeing its research programs, and communicating science to nonscientific audiences.