Penn State faculty member named College of Earth and Mineral Sciences dean

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Lee Kump, a University faculty member and leading paleoclimatologist, has been named the new dean of Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, pending approval of the Penn State Board of Trustees on July 21. Kump will serve as interim dean from June 1 to July 20.

Kump will succeed Bill Easterling, who will begin a four-year appointment as the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) director for the Directorate for Geosciences on June 1. Easterling will remain a member of Penn State’s faculty during his time with the NSF.

Kump, who currently is a professor and head of the Department of Geosciences, specializes in atmosphere and ocean evolution, environmental biogeochemistry, and biogeochemical cycles. He is a former associate head of the geosciences department at the University and was the associate director of the Earth and Evolution Program at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. During his time at Penn State, he has led a variety of research projects with the Environmental Protection Agency, NSF and NASA, among others.

“For more than 30 years, Lee has been a dedicated educator who has challenged students to strive for new levels of academic success, conducted research that has informed our understanding of the world, and advanced the mission of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences,” said Nick Jones, executive vice president and provost. “Penn State is immensely grateful to Bill Easterling for his hard work and impact on the University during his tenure as dean, and we are confident that Lee will build on Bill’s achievements and further bolster the college as a leader in its fields.”

As dean, Kump will oversee the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ five highly ranked academic departments, the online John A. Dutton e-Education Institute, and three research centers, which include the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Institute for Natural Gas Research, and the EMS Energy Institute.

Throughout his career, Kump has been an advocate for the scientific study of the Earth and environment and has focused his research on understanding the forces at work behind climate change throughout history. His current research projects include the study of atmospheric oxygen levels, dynamics of the sedimentary record, paleoclimate data assimilation for deep time, and the modeling of Earth’s dynamic systems.

In addition to his research, Kump has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses at Penn State in geochemistry, astrobiology, sedimentary geochemistry, marine biogeochemistry, mathematical modeling and other subjects. 

“I look forward to serving and facilitating the great work of the faculty, students and staff of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences,” Kump said. “Society faces many challenges that require deep understanding and innovative solutions from the Earth, energy and materials sciences and engineering disciplines. My goal is to maximize opportunities for productive collaboration and progress so that people within our college can recognize their full potential to serve society through research, education and service.”  

In 2014, Kump was elected as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union for his scientific contributions and research in the fields of space and Earth sciences. He also is a Fellow of the Geochemical Society, European Association of Geochemistry, Geological Society of London, and the Geological Society of America.

Kump is the co-author of “Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change,” which was published in 2016, and breaks down the findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He is lead author of the popular textbook “The Earth System” and a co-author of a textbook on numerical modeling. In addition, Kump has been an editor or editorial board member for such science journals as Geology, Science and Nature Scientific Reports, and he currently is on the editorial committee for the Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences journal. 

He was named a distinguished alumnus by the University of South Florida and has been awarded the Robert M. Garrels Medal by the Geobiology Society, Distinguished Service Award by the Geological Society of America, and a Wilson Research Award and Faculty Mentoring Award from Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

Kump earned a doctorate in marine sciences from the University of South Florida and a bachelor’s degree in geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago. 

Last Updated May 24, 2017