Meet the Curators

Part of the Climate Change exhibition.


Edmond A. Mathez,

Curator, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Dr. Mathez's expertise lies in igneous petrology and high-temperature geochemistry. He engages in two main lines of research. The first concerns the solidification behavior of large magma bodies, in particular, the dynamics of these systems as they solidify and the formation of the platinum ore deposits they host. The second concerns the geochemistry of carbon, which includes everything from its behavior in the deep Earth and during volcanic eruptions to how its distribution in rocks relates to electrical phenomena occasionally observed before large earthquakes. These and his eclectic interests from climate to the evolution of the old Earth have drawn him to many parts of the world, including Antarctica, southern Africa, and Greenland.

Dr. Mathez's interest in climate originated from his studies in support of the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth, a permanent exhibition hall at the American Museum of Natural History for which he served as the lead curator. He is the author of the soon-to-be-published book, Climate Change: The Science Behind Global Warming and our Energy Future (2008). Dr. Mathez has authored or coauthored more than 60 articles in peer-reviewed journals and is coauthor of the popularly acclaimed work, The Earth Machine: The Science of a Dynamic Planet (2004). In 2002, he was named corecipient of the American Geophysical Union's prestigious Excellence in Geophysical Education Award for his work in developing the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth. Dr. Mathez is Senior Research Scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and Adjunct Professor at the City University of New York. He received his Ph.D. in geology from the University of Washington in 1981.


Michael Oppenheimer,

Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Geosciences, Princeton University

Michael Oppenheimer, in addition to his professorship, is also the current Director of the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) at the Woodrow Wilson School and Faculty Associate of the Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences Program, Princeton Environmental Institute, and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. He joined the Princeton faculty after more than two decades with the Environmental Defense Fund, a nongovernmental, environmental organization, where he served as chief scientist and manager of the Climate and Air Program.

His interests include science and policy of the atmosphere, particularly climate change and its impacts. His Earth system research explores the potential effects of global warming, including the consequences for the major ice sheets and sea level, ecosystems and species, and the nitrogen cycle. He served as a lead author of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, and is a member of the National Research Council's Panel on Alternative Liquid Transportation Fuels.

In the late 1980's, Dr. Oppenheimer and a handful of other scientists organized two workshops under the auspices of the United Nations that helped precipitate the negotiations resulting in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (signed at the 1992 Earth Summit) and the Kyoto Protocol. He is also a cofounder of the Climate Action Network.

Prior to his position at the Environmental Defense Fund, where he still serves as Science Advisor, Dr. Oppenheimer served as Atomic and Molecular Astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Lecturer on Astronomy at Harvard University. He received an S.B. in chemistry from M.I.T., a Ph.D. in chemical physics from the University of Chicago, and pursued post-doctoral research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Dr. Oppenheimer is the author of more than 90 articles published in professional journals and is coauthor (with Robert H. Boyle) of Dead Heat: The Race Against The Greenhouse Effect (1990).