Date January 26, 2023
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Biden administration appoints Brown climate scientist Kim Cobb to President’s Intelligence Advisory Board

Cobb, a Brown University professor and director of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, will join a White House advisory board charged with providing independent counsel on U.S. intelligence matters.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Biden administration has appointed Kim Cobb, a leading climate scientist and educator who directs the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, a member of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.

The advisory board exists to offer the U.S. president objective, expert advice on the effectiveness of the U.S. intelligence community. For more than five decades, the board has operated as an independent element within the Executive Office of the President.

Cobb brings a robust track record of scholarship and deep expertise in climate research to the board at a time when the effects of climate change are increasingly being looked at from a national intelligence and security perspective. In January 2021, one of President Joe Biden’s first executive orders tasked the intelligence community with assessing the national security impacts of climate change. The resulting National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change report assessed the impact of climate on national security through 2040.

The White House announced Cobb’s appointment on Thursday, Jan. 26.

“It is an honor to be appointed to this esteemed board, and I look forward to serving in this role,” Cobb said.

A professor of environment and society, and of Earth, environmental and planetary sciences at Brown, Cobb is an award-winning climate scientist who served among the lead authors of the landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in 2021. Her work focuses on building capacity for climate solutions and advancing understanding of future climate change impacts, especially in regard to climate extremes and coastal flood hazards.

In conducting her research, Cobb has sailed on numerous oceanographic cruises and caving expeditions in the Borneo rainforests. For nearly two decades, her research focused on unraveling the mysteries of El Niño and La Niña events and how those weather phenomena have changed over time. By applying oxygen isotopes and radiometric dating techniques to the skeletons of living and ancient corals, Cobb and her colleagues have created a record of El Niño and La Niña events going back 7,000 years.

Cobb earned her Ph.D. in oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2002 and a bachelor of arts degree from Yale University in 1996. She spent two years at California Institute of Technology in the Department of Geological and Planetary Sciences and joined the faculty at Georgia Tech in 2004, where she served as the faculty director of the Global Change Program and the ADVANCE professor for diversity, equity and inclusion for the College of Sciences.

After joining the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society as director in July 2022, Cobb has launched a long-term planning process for the institute with a focus on finding real-world solutions to the looming climate crisis and equipping Brown students with the tools they’ll need to lead the fight in the decades to come.

Cobb has received numerous awards for her research, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2007 and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2008. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was named the Hans Oeschger Medalist by the European Geoscience Union in 2019.