Alex Halliday

The Earth Institute – Columbia University

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Alex Halliday has been Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute since April 2018, having moved from the University of Oxford, where he was a professor (2004-2018) and the Head of the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division (2007-2015). Prior to this, he held professorships at ETH Zürich (1998-2004) and the University of Michigan (1986-1998).  A graduate of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, his first academic positon was as a NERC postdoctoral researcher (1976-1981) and then university lecturer (1981-1986) at the Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre, administered through Glasgow University. 

With over 400 published research papers, Halliday has pioneered mass spectrometry techniques to measure small isotopic variations in objects as different as meteorites and organisms, helping to shed light on the birth and early development of our Solar System, the interior workings of the Earth, and the processes that affect Earth’s surface environment.  He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Murchison Medal of the Geological Society, the Bowen Award and Hess Medal of the American Geophysical Union, the Urey Medal of the European Association of Geochemistry, and the Oxburgh Medal of the Institute of Measurement and Control. He is a Fellow of the UK’s Royal Society and Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences. His contributions to science and innovation have been recognized with a knighthood in the UK. 

Halliday has provided leadership and advice to a variety of distinguished scientific societies. He was Vice President of the Royal Society for physical sciences, as well as President of the Geochemical Society, the European Association of Geochemistry, and the Volcanology, Petrology and Geochemistry Section of the American Geophysical Union.  He has served as an external board member for Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council, the Max Planck Society, London’s Natural History Museum, the American Geophysical Union, Carnegie Science and more.  He also has served on a number of advisory and appointment committees including the UK Government’s Review of the Research Excellence Framework (Stern Review). 

Halliday has steered the Earth Institute to focus heavily on climate, and now is leading the formation of the Columbia Climate School.  As a professor in Columbia’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, he divides his time between Columbia’s Morningside campus in Manhattan and his new geochemistry lab at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.