Office Hours with… Matthew Eisaman

In an interview, new faculty member Matthew Eisaman talks about his approach to climate change research and his origins as a scientist.
Matthew Eisaman

Matthew Eisaman

Matthew Eisaman hasn’t had much of a chance yet to explore the nooks and crannies of the Yale campus. His schedule is pretty full trying to help save the planet.

Since arriving in July, Eisaman, an associate professor in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, has been consumed with setting up his new lab, getting to know his departmental colleagues and collaborators at the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture (part of Yale’s Planetary Solutions Project), and continuing his ongoing research projects.

His research focuses on the ocean’s role in the carbon cycle and developing innovative methods to accelerate the oceans’ natural potential to capture and store carbon dioxide. He is also the co-founder of the startup company Ebb Carbon, which created a system for storing atmospheric carbon dioxide in seawater while reducing ocean acidity.

In the latest edition of “Office Hours,” a Q&A series that introduces new Yale faculty members to the broader community, Eisaman discusses climate change research, gardening, and the importance of looking at problems from different perspectives.

Title Associate professor of Earth and planetary sciences
Research interest Enhancing the oceans’ ability to remove carbon dioxide from the air
Prior institution Stony Brook University
Started at Yale July 1, 2023

When did your journey as a scientist begin?

Matthew Eisaman: I’ve been interested in science since I was a kid. I went through a phase in high school where I thought I wanted to do meteorology, but by the time I went to college, I was focused on astrophysics. I went to university thinking I was going to study astrophysics and then along the way got interested in other parts of physics.

Are there other scientists in your family?

Eisaman: My mom was a teacher and my dad was a computer scientist. My dad was also an amateur astronomer, so he always had books around the house on astrophysics and astronomy. Reading some of those probably got me started.

How would you describe your work to a general audience?

Eisaman: I study how we can accelerate Earth’s natural systems to address climate change. The Earth has its own regulatory mechanisms for controlling CO2 concentrations, but they act on time scales of millions of years. My lab is focused on how we might speed some of those processes up to human-relevant time scales.

Another way I talk about my work is that I study the ocean’s role in the carbon cycle and how we can use the ocean to help address climate change.

What are you working on right now that is most exciting to you?

Eisaman: An important aspect of this field is being able to measure and verify how much extra carbon dioxide has been removed as a result of whatever intervention is being performed. This area is called Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification, or MRV for short. A big thrust of my research at the moment is developing tools that reduce the uncertainty in verification. If any of these new approaches to carbon storage are going to be scaled to climate-relevant scales in the future, we need to make sure the “uncertainty” part is sufficiently small.

What inspires you as you go about this work?

Eisaman: Working on problems that are scientifically interesting and interdisciplinary, whose solution matters — that is what motivates me. I would say I’m inspired by approaches to problem solving that look at things from a different angle, in a fundamental way. I like to fundamentally step back and approach problems in new ways.

How do you spend your time outside of the laboratory?

Eisaman: Running, hiking, skiing. Spending time with my family, going to my daughter’s cross-country meets and orchestra concerts, and maybe some amateur gardening. We have some blueberry bushes, some apple trees, and we usually plant garlic. We try to plant things that produce food with minimal effort.


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