UCI News

James Randerson named Ralph J. & Carol M. Cicerone Chair of Earth System Science

UCI expert on climate and environment is first to hold new endowed position

May 21, 2018
James Randerson named Ralph J. & Carol M. Cicerone Chair of Earth System Science
James Randerson – whose work has advanced the understanding of human impacts on the planet’s climate, environment and ecosystems – is UCI’s inaugural Ralph J. & Carol M. Cicerone Chair of Earth System Science. Steve Zylius / UCI

Irvine, Calif., May 21, 2018 – James Randerson recently became the first University of California, Irvine faculty member to receive the title of Ralph J. & Carol M. Cicerone Chair of Earth System Science. The new position and related graduate fellowship were made possible through an endowment started by Ralph Cicerone, former UCI chancellor, dean of physical sciences and chair of Earth system science; and his wife, Carol Cicerone, professor emerita of cognitive sciences.

“When it was founded in 1995, UCI’s Department of Earth System Science was revolutionary for being the first such unit to combine research and education on atmospheric chemistry, biogeochemical cycles, human systems and physical climate into one interdisciplinary effort,” said Enrique Lavernia, UCI provost and executive vice chancellor. “Establishing an endowed chair in this vitally important department – and appointing James Randerson as its inaugural occupant – is a demonstration of UCI’s commitment to excellence in Earth science research.”

Randerson came to UCI as an assistant professor of Earth system science in 2003. Research in his lab focuses on climate change, the carbon cycle and the effects of fire on ecosystem function and atmospheric composition. He is well-known in the scientific community for his expertise in using remote-sensing and in-place data gathering techniques and computer models to study the Earth system, and his work is frequently referenced in policy recommendations and regulations geared toward the effective and sustainable management of the environment.

“I am extremely proud to hold a title containing the name of Ralph Cicerone, founding chair of the Department of Earth System Science at UCI,” said Randerson, whose work has advanced the understanding of human impacts on the planet’s climate, environment and ecosystems. “Ralph and Carol Cicerone have contributed an incalculable amount to scientific inquiry here at UCI and around the world, and I am thrilled to be carrying their legacy forward.”

Randerson, who earned a Ph.D. in biological sciences (1998) and a B.S. in chemistry (1992) at Stanford University, became a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2017. He is also a fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

“Professor Randerson’s accomplishments and continued leadership in climate science make him the logical choice as UCI’s inaugural Ralph J. & Carol M. Cicerone Chair of Earth System Science,” said Kenneth Janda, dean of the School of Physical Sciences. “I am pleased that we have someone of his stellar capabilities to honor this endowment established by the Cicerones, who are such important figures in the history of our institution.”

Carol M. and Ralph J. Cicerone. UCI Special Collections

Ralph Cicerone, an internationally acclaimed atmospheric scientist whose work helped shape environmental policy in the United States and elsewhere, died in 2016 at age 73. Following his illustrious tenure at UCI, he served as president of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the National Research Council.

Carol Cicerone said that most of the proceeds from The Franklin Institute’s Bower Award & Prize for Achievement in Science, which her husband won in 1999, went toward the building of UCI’s John V. Croul Hall – home to the Earth system science department – and the launch of a graduate fellowship fund.

The Ralph J. & Carol M. Cicerone Endowed Chair & Fellowship Fund was later established through the generous support of Ralph and Carol Cicerone; the Croul Family Foundation; the David E.I. Pyott Foundation; Gregory, Donna and Brad Jenkins; the Ernest & Irma Rose Foundation; Tom and Marilyn Sutton; and many others who wanted to support this permanent tribute to the Cicerones and their impact on the School of Physical Sciences and UCI at large.

“I congratulate Professor Randerson on earning this distinction,” said Carol Cicerone. “Regarding this new endowed chair and fellowship to support graduate research and education, Ralph himself said it best: ‘Every individual should have opportunity, and with that opportunity, we can achieve virtually anything.’”

A private celebration of the creation of the Ralph J. & Carol M. Cicerone Chair of Earth System Science, as well as the appointment of Randerson as its inaugural occupant, will be held Tuesday, May 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. at John V. Croul Hall. The UCI School of Physical Sciences will unveil a Ralph J. Cicerone exhibit during the event. Participating dignitaries will include Carol Cicerone, Enrique Lavernia and Bruce Darling, executive officer of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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