• Volume 18 Number 1
    Winter 2009


  • Cover Story: Feeding the poorest of the poor

  • No longer interim, Jay Akridge is the new dean of agriculture

  • College honors 10 distinguished alums

  • Alumni Profile: Afghanistan is last mission for Col. Chastain before retirement

  • Hospital patients check out adjunct professor's photography

  • Globe-trotting winner of the World Food Prize centers sights on the future

  • more...

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    Purdue pair shares in Nobel Peace Prize

    Image: Kevin Gurney
    Photo by Tom Campbell

    Research by Kevin Gurney helped Al Gore win the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

    Two Purdue faculty members’ theoretical share of the Nobel Peace Prize divided among 2,500 researchers — about $300 each. Their chance to help influence worldwide policy to stave off potentially disastrous climate change — priceless.

    Neither Kevin Gurney nor Otto Doering met the Nobel Committee or attended the presentation ceremonies in Oslo, Norway. But they were part of a 20-year effort to determine what climate change means to everyday people.

    Colleagues from their fields of expertise recommended Gurney and Doering to help with the massive endeavor of preparing sections of the four assessment reports published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    Image: Doering


    Doering, a Purdue agricultural economist and public policy specialist, was a lead author for an IPCC special report chapter. He and six other researchers from the United States, Brazil, Japan and China boiled down information from contributing authors and wrote a chapter on agriculture and the technology needed to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

    “We focused on how we get the technology needed to cut greenhouse gases to farmers,” Doering says. “We talked about some weighty issues such as yield growth and genetic technology.”

    Gurney was a contributing author on the fourth IPCC report that was released in late 2007 and a chapter reviewer for the third report published in 2001. An assistant professor in the Departments of Agronomy and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, he describes himself as a combination of atmospheric scientist and ecologist working in the broad arena of global change.

    For the fourth report, Gurney provided material for a chapter titled “Couplings Between Changes in the Climate System and Biogeochemistry.” Quite a mouthful, but it encompasses one of Gurney’s primary research areas — whether cutting down trees increases carbon dioxide damage to the atmosphere, which experts say is one of the elements leading to climate change.

    “I’m trying to develop a way that deforestation might be handled within the Kyoto Treaty,” Gurney says. He attended meetings in December in Bali in which representatives from nearly 200 countries began hammering out a new agreement to extend the treaty, which expires in 2012.

    The Nobel Peace Prize presentation was held in Oslo on Dec. 10. The $1.5 million prize was split between former Vice President Al Gore and the IPPC. The IPPC’s share is being used for its further study of climate change. Gore donated his half of the money to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a non-profit educational organization he founded in 2006.

    Though he missed the ceremony, Doering, as a lead author, received a picture of the Nobel medal in a little plastic case.

    “I can put it on my refrigerator or something,” he jokes. And in January, he and his wife were in Norway and she took her husband’s photograph standing in front of the building where the presentations were made. “I can put the picture next to the plastic case with the medal photo and it will look very official,” he says.

    Contact Doering at doering@purdue.edu

    Contact Gurney at kgurney@purdue.edu

    Image: Details of their research