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Famed Air Pollution Researcher Returns to His Academic Roots


SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A world leader in air pollution research returns to his alma mater this month to discuss the role of scientists in public decision making.

Dr. Ellis B. Cowling, who earned his bachelor's degree at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in 1954 and his master's degree in 1956, will be the keynote speaker for ESF's annual Spotlight on Student Research. He will speak at 4 p.m. April 20 in Marshall Hall Auditorium on the ESF campus.

Cowling helped develop the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP), a nationwide system for monitoring acid deposition. ESF's Adirondack Ecological Center was one of the first field stations established in the NADP program. The station, located at the college's campus in the Adirondack town of Newcomb, has been collecting data about climate and precipitation continuously for more than 20 years. The NADP involves more than 200 scientists in the United States and Canada and provides information about precipitation chemistry from all over the continent.

Cowling is currently director of the Southern Oxidants Study, an alliance of 24 universities and 35 governmental and industrial organizations investigating the chemistry, meteorology, biology and management of ozone air pollution and its effects in the Southeastern United States. The study is based at North Carolina State University, where Cowlings is a university distinguished professor-at-large.

Cowling has also served as a professor at Yale University. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1973, one of the most prestigious honors that can be bestowed upon a scientist. He helped draft the plan for the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program, which provided the foundation for part of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

Cowling's bachelor's degree is in wood technology. His master's degree is in forest pathology. He earned his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin in plant pathology and biochemistry in 1959.

His appearance at ESF is in conjunction with both the “Spotlight" event and the annual “Conference on Shifting Paradigms in Science and the Environment." The conference is sponsored by the Graduate Student Association.

“Spotlight," sponsored by the faculty research committee and the Office of Research Programs, showcases the research of more than 120 ESF graduate and undergraduate students. The students will display posters detailing their projects beginning at 11 a.m. in Alumni Lounge, Marshall Hall. The posters will be displayed through the day.