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Geologist Brenda Bowen to chair Department of Atmospheric Sciences

Brenda Bowen, a decorated interdisciplinary geoscientist, has been named chair of the University of Utah’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences (ATMOS).

A member of the geology faculty and director of the Global Change and Sustainability Center (GCSC), Bowen replaces John Horel, who has been at the helm of ATMOS for five years.

“Brenda Bowen is an internationally prominent researcher and an experienced academic leader,” said Peter Trapa, dean of the U’s College of Science. “Bowen’s vision will guide the Department of Atmospheric Sciences in exciting new directions.” 

The college recently merged with the College of Mines and Earth Sciences, which houses both the departments of Geology and Geophysics and of Atmospheric Sciences.

“As most of you know, Brenda is a dynamic leader on campus who has a collaborative vision of academics and research,” outgoing Dean Darryl Butt told his colleagues. “I am really looking forward to watching the synergy between departments in our merged college structure as you all continue to break down barriers of academics and, as I like to say, make two plus two equal something greater than four.”

While remaining in charge of GCSC, Bowen begins her new role July 1.

Brenda Bowen, chairwoman of the U’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences

“I look forward to leading ATMOS in a way that creates stronger connections between our departments and the College of Science as a whole,” she said. “My goal is to build on the department’s leadership in advancing field stations and long-term field-based science, commitment to conducting and advancing community-based research with highly significant societal relevance, and dedication to training students for careers of the future.”  

Bowen’s research explores the links between sedimentology, geochemistry and environmental change, particularly in extreme environments. Recent work focuses on how surface process, groundwater flow and geochemical change impact landscape evolution in human-modified systems. This work relies on field observations, satellite and airborne remote sensing and a range of lab-based analytical techniques, including geochemistry and microscopy. 

In addition to her geologic research and teaching, Bowen advances interdisciplinary sustainability research, practice and academic programs that address critical issues related to understanding global change and creating sustainable solutions related to energy, resources, climate and equity.

ATMOS is the leading program of weather and climate-related research and education in the Intermountain West and is recognized internationally for its expertise in cloud-climate interactions, mountain meteorology, climate physics and dynamics, weather and climate modeling and tropical meteorology.

The department, which celebrated its 75th anniversary earlier this year, houses research and teaching endeavors that provide the knowledge and tools to understand the challenges posed by hazardous weather and climate change in the 21st century.

The student-centered department is home to faculty who are dedicated mentors and classroom instructors. Several ATMOS professors have won college or university-wide teaching awards. For more information, see the department’s 2023 magazine Air Currents.