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Yale recruits leading global warming expert

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Rajendra Pachauri will lead a new institute on climate change. View full image

If there are such things as celebrity climate scientists, Rajendra Pachauri is one of them. Pachauri, an engineer and economist by training, chairs the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. He also directs the prominent Energy and Resources Institute in India. Now, he can add another business card to his collection: beginning in July, he will head the new Yale Climate and Energy Institute (YCEI).

Asked why he took the job, Pachauri says, wryly: "I was underemployed."

Yale professors have been conducting climate change research for many years. The new institute -- formed through the efforts of numerous faculty members and supported by an anonymous $3 million donation -- will better coordinate that research and encourage collaborations. According to Steven Girvin, Yale's deputy provost for science and technology, a first call for seed proposals has gone out, and there are tentative plans to hold a large international conference within the next two years.

YCEI will also encourage collaboration across fields. "Climate change is a multidisciplinary problem," says Pachauri; you can't "come up with clear directions for action unless you put everything together." Pachauri taught a semester at the environment school in 2000. He received an honorary degree from the university in 2008.

Juggling his three jobs will mean Pachauri can only spend half his time at Yale. But YCEI's members believe they've hired the right man. "There's an old saying," says Girvin. "If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it."  

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