Paul Falkowski
Biological, Geological
Distinguished Professor


Bennett L. Smith Chair in Business and Natural Resources

Departments of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Marine and Coastal Sciences

Board of Governors Professor and Founding Director of the Rutgers Energy Institute

Research Interests

My research interests are focused on three areas – origins of life, how electron transfer reactions are mediated, and how organisms transformed the geochemistry of Earth. In the evolution of Earth, microbes became a major force in transforming this planet to make it habitable for animals, including humans. I seek to understand the basic chemical reactions that enabled microbes to transform Earth’s geochemistry. I work at the molecular level of proteins and fundamental chemical reactions of minerals, and the global scale of how this planet came to have oxygen as the second most abundant gas. I am most interested in understanding how these kinds of processes have transformed our planet and may evolve on planetary bodies in our solar system and on extra-solar planets. There are only two questions I address: Where did we come from? And are we alone?

Short History

After graduating from the University of British Columbia and doing a 9 month post-doc at the University of Rhode Island, I was hired at the Brookhaven National Laboratory as staff scientist in the newly formed Oceanographic and Atmospheric Sciences Division. I worked there for 23 years and developed the field of environmental biophysics. In 1998 I moved my research group to Rutgers University. In 2007 I was elected to the National Academy of Science for my research on the global carbon cycle.

Teaching Efforts

History of Earth Systems 11:628:476:01 (Marine and Coastal Sciences – Undergrad.)
16:712:560:01 (Oceanography-Grad.)