Earth scientist James Zachos elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union

James Zachos

James Zachos, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, has been elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). The AGU fellows are a select group of distinguished scientists who have attained an acknowledged eminence in a branch of the geophysical sciences.

A leader in the field of paleoceanography, Zachos studies marine environments in Earth's past by analyzing evidence in the layers of sediments deposited on the seafloor. Using the chemical compositions of fossils and other clues, he and his students are able to reconstruct climate conditions and ocean chemistry during past episodes of extreme climates. They have also been able to show how the climate has responded to periodic changes in Earth's orbit.

Much of Zachos's research has focused on major climate shifts during the past 65 million years, such as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). This work is highly relevant to understanding how human activities are driving modern-day global climate change. (See related story about this research.)

Zachos received a B.S. in geology and economics from the State University of New York at Oneonta, an M.S. in geology from the University of South Carolina, and a Ph.D. in geological oceanography from the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island. He joined the UCSC faculty in 1992.

The newly elected AGU fellows will be honored at the AGU Joint Assembly in May in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.