In Oxford and Stockholm, climate change is on Wettlaufer’s agenda

Yale scientist John S. Wettlaufer has been named the Tage Erlander visiting professor at Stockholm’s Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics (NORDITA) for the year 2012.

John S. Wettlaufer
John S. Wettlaufer

The Swedish Research Council announced Wettlaufer’s appointment earlier this month. The post provides $350,000 to support graduate students, postdoctoral associates, and visitors, and will underpin Wettlaufer’s work on projects related to climate change, planetary accretion, and fluid dynamics.

“I am humbled, enthusiastic, honored, and surprised,” said Wettlaufer, the Alan M. Bateman Professor at Yale. “Humbled by the company of former Tage Erlander Professors who are an extremely accomplished group. Enthusiastic because of the opportunity provided to expand and develop my research program both by the time allowed to focus and by the cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary opportunities afforded by it. Honored because Tage Erlander was the longest-serving prime minister of Sweden and was largely responsible for the building of the compassionate society that it is today. Surprised to have been selected, given that a physicist is chosen only about once every five years.”

A condensed matter theorist, Wettlaufer has research interests spanning statistical physics, applied mathematics, and astro/bio/geophysics. At Yale he teaches in the Departments of Geology and Geophysics and Physics and in the program in applied mathematics.

He spent the summer of 2010 in England, where a Guggenheim Fellowship supported his work at the University of Oxford’s Mathematical Institute. There he worked on several projects related to climate change, including the construction of “physically realistic but mathematically solvable stochastic theories of abrupt climate change.”

At NORDITA, he will extend this climate research and pursue problems in planetary accretion, and lattice Boltzmann methods for electromagnetism and turbulent flows.

NORDITA is hosted jointly by Stockholm University and the Royal Institute of Technology. The core research areas are astrophysics, condensed matter, statistical and biological physics, high-energy and nuclear physics, and complex systems. Wettlaufer spent a previous sabbatical at NORDITA in 2008.

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