Paul Bierman is a professor of Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. His research and teaching expertise focus on the interaction of people and Earth’s dynamic surface including 200 person general education classes in Climate Change and Earth Hazards. Bierman is a native of Baltimore, Maryland. For college, he moved north to Massachusetts, where he earned a Bachelors degree in Geology at Williams College studying the demise of glaciers as the climate warmed 15,000 years ago. After several years working as an environmental consultant in Boston, Bierman moved north again to the University of Washington in Seattle where he earned both a masters and doctoral degree in Geology; there he was one of the first geologists to develop dating methods used to determine Earth’s climate history and the effect of climate on erosion. After a short post-doctoral interlude far to the south in Australia, Bierman has been a professor at the University of Vermont since 1993.
Bierman’s research has taken him around the globe. He has studied erosion in Australia, South America, and several countries in Africa and the Middle East. In Greenland, Bierman and his graduate students are tracing the comings and goings of the Greenland Ice sheet over the last million years, an adventure that repeatedly takes them helicoptering over the ice to find evidence for changing ice margins and sea level. For the last several years, Bierman has worked in Cuba with a team of Cuban scientists documenting the effect of the transition to organic agriculture on river water quality.
Bierman works extensively communicating science to the pubic. He teaches summer science programs for highly motivated high school students, directs a public web site (www.uvm.edu/landscape) holding over 72,000 photographs of historic Vermont landscapes, has been co-author since 2005 of Pipkin et al., an introductory Environmental Geology textbook, and is the lead author (2014, 2020) of a new, NSF-funded textbook, Key Concepts in Geomorphology, that uses extensive visuals and photographs to teach about the workings of Earth’s surface. He is currently writing a new introductory textbook entitled, Climate: past, present and future as well as a book about Greenland, climate change, and the history of Camp Century and its ice core.
Bierman was awarded the Donath medal as the outstanding young scientist of the year by the Geological Society of America in 1995; he has since received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation specifically for integrating scientific education and research related to the landscape altering effects of climate change over the last 10,000 years. In 2005, Bierman was awarded the NSF Distinguished Teaching Scholar award in recognition of his on-going attempts to integrate these two strands of his academic life. Together, Bierman, his graduate and undergraduate students, and collaborators have more than 175 publications in refereed journals and books as well as hundreds of abstracts.