Campus News

NOAA administrator will deliver inaugural Boyd Lecture on Earth Day

The first George H. Boyd Distinguished Lecture, scheduled for 11 a.m. in the Chapel on April 22, will feature a talk on “Stewardship of Ocean and Coastal Environments.” Retired Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and the administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will deliver the free lecture, which is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for research.

The lecture honors the late George H. Boyd, who spearheaded the University of Georgia’s rise to a doctoral-level institution.

“This new lecture series is unique at UGA because it is geared toward national trends in research and technology and how these trends impact education and research,” says Vice President for Research Gordhan Patel. “We feel that establishing this series in honor of Dr. Boyd will further his ideals and goals for the university.”

Boyd came to UGA in 1926 to head the department of zoology, which is now cellular biology. He assumed the chairmanship of the biological sciences division shortly thereafter. He served as dean of the Graduate School from 1943 until his retirement in 1959. Upon retiring, Boyd spent a year in Washington, D.C., working for the National Science Foundation and the Atomic Energy Commission. Boyd believed that cooperation between science and industry was the key to establishing a tradition of research at UGA. His convictions resulted in UGA awarding 50 doctorates while he was dean; in the previous 23 years it had awarded two.

Lautenbacher initiated the first-ever Earth Observation Summit in 2003, which culminated in more than 30 nations formalizing plans for international cooperation on construction and maintenance of a global Earth-observing system. At the 2005 ­summit, more than 50 nations agreed to a 10-year implementation plan for Global Earth Observation System of Systems, which will provide global climate information and early warnings of natural disasters, including a global tsunami-warning system and international data-sharing network.

Lautenbacher also has headed numerous delegations at international government summits and conferences around the world, including the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and the U.S. delegation to the 2002 and 2003 World Meteorological Organization and Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Lautenbacher’s work has led to great strides in global cooperation and scientific collaboration in efforts to prepare for environmental disasters like the recent tsunami that devastated several nations’ coastlines bordering the Indian Ocean. “I want to wire the world,” he said to The Washington Post in 2004. “We want to be able to give the world an MRI . . . to take the pulse of the planet.”

Lautenbacher is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and served at the Brookings Institution, Washington’s oldest think tank. He earned master’s and doctoral degrees in applied mathematics from Harvard University.