John Smol

Research Focus: The study of how ecosystems change over long time frames in response to both natural and human-induced environmental change.

John SmolPaleolimnology may not be an everyday word, but the environmental problems it helps solve are. Dr. Smol goes deep below the surface of our lakes and rivers to uncover the secrets of our environmental history, written in the mud and silt.

Key research topics include climate change, nutrient enrichment, contaminant transport and the environmental legacies of acid rain, such as calcium decline in lakes. A large part of his research program is centered on Arctic and alpine ecosystems, which are especially sensitive to climatic and other forms of environmental change.

Water pollution, climatic change, declining fisheries – these environmental problems are at the forefront of many people’s minds. And so are the dreaded diseases like cancer, asthma, autism, that many experts feel are linked to toxic chemicals in our environment, in particular, our fresh water supplies.

Professor Smol’s work has been informing policy discussions and decisions nationally and internationally for many years. His research has enabled policy makers to make knowledgeable, proactive decisions in areas such as agricultural runoff, clearcutting, protection of fish habitats, and air pollution control.

No matter how complicated paleolimnology might sound to you, to John, it’s all about one simple vision: the more we know about our environment, the better decisions we can make to protect it.