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Anthony D. Del Genio


  • Organization
    NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; PI, Rocky Planet Habitability Team


  • Biography

    After deciding to enter the field of planetary science as a result of guidance from Joe Burns at Cornell, I started graduate school at UCLA intending to study mantle convection with my advisor, Jerry Schubert. But a disastrous performance on the geophysics section of my first-year comprehensive exam (mostly seismology) and a good performance on the planetary atmospheres section led to a gentle suggestion from Jerry to change fields. I wrote a dissertation about gravity waves on Earth and Venus, and then took an NRC postdoc at NASA GISS with Jim Hansen’s team analyzing cloud photopolarimeter data from the new Pioneer Venus Orbiter mission. I then had the temerity to think I could develop improved parameterizations of clouds and moist convection for the new GISS Earth global climate model to understand the feedbacks that determine our planet’s response to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. 30 years later, I have not yet learned my lesson and continue to try. I also at that time adapted the model to understand why the atmospheres of slowly rotating planets such as Titan and Venus superrotate. I was fortunate to be selected as a member of the imaging team for the Cassini Saturn Orbiter and have learned a decent bit about how the weather on Saturn and Titan operate while being blown away by our spectacular images of the Saturn system (including our images of Earth as seen from Saturn). I have also had the chance to learn more about clouds and precipitation than I could have imagined from my involvement in the NASA TRMM/GPM and CloudSat/CALIPSO missions and the DOE Atmospheric System Research Program. Now I am awed to be participating in the greatest scientific adventure of my (and everyone else’s?) lifetime – the search for habitable and inhabited exoplanets as part of NExSS. I do this with the unfailing support of my wonderful wife and daughter, while trying to make a little time for other passions such as wine and Doctor Who.

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