Career of Renowned Atmospheric Scientist Begins with a Big Magnet

This ScienceLives article was provided to LiveScience in partnership with the National Science Foundation.

If you read Ralph Cicerone’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology profile, it says as an undergraduate he was a bit unprepared when he arrived at the school in 1961. Apparently, the public high school in his small Western Pennsylvania town didn't offer calculus or a full course in physics, and he'd never taken a final exam. But as the saying goes, "despise not the day of humble beginnings." Cicerone would go on to become an eminent atmospheric scientist whose groundbreaking research in atmospheric chemistry is recognized the world over.

Cicerone is the president of the National Academy of Sciences, Chair of the National Research Council and chancellor emeritus and professor emeritus of Earth System Science in the School of Physical Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. His research involves theoretical and experimental research on the plasma physics of Earth's ionosphere, the chemistry of the ozone layer, radiative forcing of climate change by greenhouse gases and sources of atmospheric methane and methyl halide gases. In 2005, Cicerone was recognized on the citation for the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry. During a recent visit to the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Va., he took a moment to answer the ScienceLives 10 questions.

Name: Dr. Ralph Cicerone Age: 67 Institution: National Academy of Sciences, president Field of Study: Atmospheric Sciences

Editor's Note: This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the federal agency charged with funding basic research and education across all fields of science and engineering. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. See the ScienceLives archive.