Stephanie L. Pfirman, Professor of Environmental Science and Alena Wels Hirschorn '58 and Martin Hirschorn Professor of Environmental and Applied Sciences, joined the faculty of Barnard College in 1993, and serves as co-Chair of Barnard's Department of Environmental Science. She holds a joint appointment with Columbia University where she is a member of the faculties of the Earth Institute and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Adjunct Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. Prior to joining Barnard, Professor Pfirman was a senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund and co-developer of the award-winning exhibition, "Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast," produced jointly with the American Museum of Natural History. She has worked for the House of Representatives, as a staff scientist, for the US Geological Survey, as an oceanographer, and for the GeoMarine Research Institution in Kiel, Germany, as an Arctic researcher. Her PhD is from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution joint program in Oceanography and Oceanographic Engineering and she has BA with high honors in Geology from Colgate University.
Professor Pfirman’s scientific research focuses on the Arctic environment, in particular on the nature and dynamics of Arctic sea ice under changing climate. Her previous research activities have included melting and surging glaciers and pollution transported by sea ice. In 2010, Pfirman was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the Section on Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences.
As a National Science Foundation Advancing Women in the Sciences (ADVANCE) coPI and past President of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors, Pfirman has helped to understand and foster the career trajectories of women and interdisciplinary scholars. She has contributed to the development of innovative educational approaches in interdisciplinary, environmental, and STEM education including chairing the Education Committee of the Columbia Earth Institute, and serving as a consultant for the Andrew W. Mellon, Sherman Fairchild, and Luce foundations.
Professor Pfirman is currently principal investigator of the Polar Learning and Responding: PoLAR Climate Change Education Partnership supported by the National Science Foundation. She is a member of the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education (AC-ERE), co-Chair of its Working Group on Diversity, and served as the AC-ERE’s first Chair when it was established over a decade ago. Prior service includes Chair of the Advisory Committee to the Office of Polar Programs at NSF, member of the National Academy of Science’s Polar Research Board, co-Chair of the NAS study committee on Emerging Research Questions in the Arctic, Chair of the study committee on the Scientific Value of the Arctic Sea Ice Imagery Derived Products, and member of the study committee on the Legacy and Lessons of International Polar Year 2007-2008.