Media Briefing:
Understanding Sea Level Rise

Panelist Biographies

Dr. Andrea Dutton


Andrea Dutton is a carbonate geochemist and sedimentologist and Assistant Professor of Geology at the University of Florida, with interests in research questions pertaining to paleoclimate and paleoceanography. 

Her main research focus is to establish the behavior of sea level and polar ice sheets during past warm periods to better inform us about futuresea-level rise. Andrea serves on multiple editorial boards, steering committees, and working groups related to past climate and sea level change and is a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Oceans & Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC).  She is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and of the Florida Climate Institute, and is committed to scientific outreach and public engagement, actively communicating about her research through multiple platforms.  She holds a B.A. in music from Amherst College, a M.S. and Ph.D. in geology at the University of Michigan, and spent seven years in Australia as a postdoctoral fellow and research fellow at The Australian National University.

Dr. Sophie Nowicki

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Sophie Nowicki is a Research Scientist and Deputy Chief for the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.

Her research uses applied mathematics, remote sensing observations, and numerical modeling to understand ice sheet dynamics and their connections to the global climate and future sea-levels. She has been a science team member for Operation IceBridge and co-led the Sea-Level Response to Ice Sheet Evolution (SeaRISE), an international effort that investigated the sensitivity of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to external environmental forcings. She currently leads an effort to couple an ice sheet model to the two Goddard climate models (GEOS-5 and ModelE), and an effort that investigates the feedbacks, processes, and impacts of contemporary changes in the Arctic using satellite observations, ice sheet, and climate models. She is a member of the NASA Sea Level Change Team, the SEARCH Land Ice Action Team, and the Community Earth System Model Scientific Steering Committee; an executive committee member for the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise phase 2; and co-lead of the Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project for Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6). She holds a B.Sc. in Geophysics and an M.S. in Remote Sensing and Image Processing from the University of Edinburgh, and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Glaciology from University College London.

Dr. Michael Oppenheimer


Michael Oppenheimer is the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University. He is the Director of the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) at the Woodrow Wilson School and Faculty Associate of the Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences Program, Princeton Environmental Institute, and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.

Michael also serves as a science advisor to the Environmental Defense Fund, where he worked for two decades, and is a long-time participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), serving currently as a coordinating lead author of IPCC’s Special Report on Oceans, Crysophere and Climate Change. Michael has been a member of several panels of the National Academy of Sciences and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a winner of the Heinz Award. He received an S.B. in chemistry from M.I.T., a Ph.D. in chemical physics from the University of Chicago, and pursued post-doctoral research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Dr. Ben Strauss


Benjamin Strauss is President, CEO, and Chief Scientist of Climate Central, an independent, nonprofit organization that researches and communicates climate science, impacts and solutions.

He is author of numerous scientific papers and reports on sea-level rise and is architect of the Surging Seas suite of maps, tools, and visualizations, which has garnered more than 100 million page views. In earlier roles at Climate Central, Ben served as Chief Scientist, Vice President for Sea Level and Climate Impacts, interim Executive Director, and COO. He was a founding board member of and the Environmental Leadership Program. Strauss co-organized the 1994 Campus Earth Summit, and consulted to the Nathan Cummings Foundation on higher education and the environment. He holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University, an M.S. in Zoology from the University of Washington, and a B.A. in Biology from Yale University.

Rick Weiss (moderator)


Rick Weiss is the Director of SciLine.

He has more than three decades of experience in journalism and public affairs, including 15 years as a science reporter at the Washington Post and more than a decade leading strategic communications and media relations activities around issues of science and technology in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. While at The Post, Rick wrote more than 1,000 news and feature articles about advances in science and technology and their economic, societal, and ethical implications. His awards include the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing’s Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting and the National Association of Science Writers’ Science and Society Award.

Rick earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Cornell University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, and holds a license in medical technology with the American Society for Clinical Pathology. He lives in Takoma Park, Maryland, with his wife Natalie Angier, the New York Times science writer and author.

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About This Media Briefing

Sea levels are rising as a consequence of climate change, and rising oceans will affect many millions of people in the years ahead. But how much will the seas rise, and how fast? This June 6 media briefing focused on how scientists model and project sea level rise, and how to interpret and communicate the range of possible outcomes accurately and in proper context to your readers, listeners, and viewers.