An interest in the social and natural sciences led UCLA Professor Alex Hall to a career in climate change. As a double major in physics and history at Pomona College in Claremont, California, Hall found a graduate program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at Princeton University that was a perfect fit for his dual passions—a focus in the natural sciences that was also highly relevant to society.
At Princeton, Hall studied with preeminent climatologist Syukuro Manabe, a Japanese meteorologist who pioneered the use of computers to simulate global climate change and natural climate variations.
“Manabe was really inspirational. He got me very excited and motivated to study climate change,” recalled Hall.
After graduation Hall became a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. He worked there for a couple of years before arriving at UCLA in 2001. Here Hall teaches climate-related courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including a general education course he created – Climate Change: from Puzzles to Policy.
Hall is drawn to the complex multifaceted topic of climate change for many reasons.
“There’s something awesome about the issue…awesome in the original sense of the word. Humans changing the environment on a global scale is really colossal in its dimensions. Climate change is impossible to ignore intellectually,” he stated.
He continued, “Climate change is interwoven with development as a society. You cannot address climate change without taking into account almost every sphere of human activity. So it is central to what kind of civilization we are and what kind of civilization we want to be.”
As the new Faculty Director of the Center for Climate Change Solutions Hall feels UCLA is well positioned to tackle the complex multidisciplinary problems that arise in the study of climate change.
He believes there is a real opportunity to develop interdisciplinary research and teaching programs that can bring the academic world’s way of addressing climate change to the next level.