Professor of Geosciences Eugene Domack has long made his undergraduate students an integral part of his research "family." Over the past two decades he has led more than 100 undergraduates from Hamilton and other colleges and universities to Antarctica to do critical fieldwork. He has also supervised more than 100 senior theses, 25 of which have appeared in peer-reviewed publications -- a remarkable achievement for undergraduates.
So it's fitting that Domack should be appointed to the newly endowed Joel W. Johnson Family Professorship in Environmental Studies. Established this year by charter trustee Joel W. Johnson '65 and his wife Elizabeth B. Johnson with their $2.5 million gift, the Johnson Family Professorship is the largest endowed professorship in the history of Hamilton College. The endowment provides not only for the chairholder but for an undergraduate research program as well.
Matthew Kirby '94, an assistant professor of paleoclimatology at California State University, Fullerton, credits Domack and research at Hamilton with his career direction. "Without Gene, it is hard to imagine my life's path," he says. "As a geology major, I was somewhat directionless for my first couple years. Everything changed my junior year when Gene offered me the opportunity to pursue research along the Antarctic Peninsula. What an experience!"
Domack points out that the Johnson endowment will allow for even greater student involvement in field research, analytical research and conferences in an international context. "The Johnson Family Professorship is a generous and welcome gesture which will boost the College's curricular focus on environmental sciences," he says.
Hamilton's Environmental Studies Program explores the complex connections between the environment and human life and culture in interdisciplinary fashion.
Domack's own research on the paleohistory of Antarctica's Larsen Ice Shelf has taken on critical importance as the region emerges as a key site of climate change. During a recent study he also discovered an underwater volcano and a new ecosystem revealed by the collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf.