Distinguished Professors

The title of Distinguished Professor denotes a faculty member who is in the top 5 percent of his or her field throughout the world. Recipients are considered preeminent in their fields based on seminal contributions to their disciplines.

The Chancellor of the Texas A&M University System grants the title to the successful nominees.

All four of the College of Geosciences' Distinguished Professors are also Fellows in the American Geophysical Union.

Dr. Earl F. Cook

Earl Cook

Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Department of Geology and Geophysics

Appointed Unknown

Dr. Earl Cook, Dean of the College from 1971 until 1981, earned his three degrees from the University of Washington in mining engineering and geology. Before coming to Texas A&M in 1966 as professor of geology and associate dean of geosciences, he was executive secretary of the National Academy of Sciences’ Division of Earth Sciences. He was named Distinguished Professor of Geology and Geophysics in 1981 and was the Harris Professor of Geosciences. He was known for his integrative analysis of the role of energy in society. He studied not only the modeling of resource supply systems, he also analyzed the broader social issues associated with energy use, resource depletion and environmental degradation, culminating in his book, Man, Energy, and Society (1976).

Dr. Cook passed away on October 11, 1983.

Dr. Robert. O. Reid

Robert Reid

Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Department of Oceanography and Meterology

Appointed 1978

Robert Reid had a long and illustrious career at Texas A&M, joining the Department of Oceanography-Meteorology as an assistant professor in 1951. As one of the first faculty members in that newly formed department, he was instrumental in building the program and shaping its future.

He became an associate professor in 1953 and a professor of civil engineering and oceanography in 1959. He was named a University Distinguished Professor in 1978 and served as head of the Oceanography Department from 1981 until 1987. Upon his retirement in 1987, he was named Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Oceanography.

Prof. Reid was recruited from Scripps Institution of Oceanography by Texas A&M’s first oceanography department head, Dale F. Leipper, who had worked with Reid at Scripps. Reid earned his master’s degree in oceanography at Scripps in 1948 after having earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Southern California two years earlier.

Dr. Reid passed away on January 23, 2009.

Dr. Gerald North

Jerry North

Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Departments of Atmospheric Sciences and Oceanography

Appointed September 1, 1986

Dr. Gerald North is one of the leading authorities on climate change. His contributions include groundbreaking research on climate models, atmospheric statistics, and satellite mission development. He has been holder of the Harold J. Haynes Endowed Chair in Geosciences and has served as department head in Atmospheric Sciences. Among his many publications are the recent books, Impact of Global Warming in Texas (rev. 2nd edition, 2011) and An Introduction to Atmospheric Thermodynamics (2009). The American Meteorological Society awarded him the Jule G. Charney Award in 2008.

Dr. Worth Nowlin

Worth Nowlin

Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Department of Oceanography

Appointed September 1, 1987

Dr. Worth Nowlin led development of the Global Ocean Observing System and the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He twice received the Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Research. He was awarded the Antarctic Service Medal of the United States and the AGU Ocean Science Award, and was appointed Admiral in the Texas Navy. He is former Department Head of Oceanography, Texas Sea Grant Director, Associate Dean of Geosciences and founding Director of the Texas Center for Climate Studies.

Dr. Robert Duce

Robert Duce

Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Departments of Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences

Appointed June 1, 2004

Dr. Robert Duce is both a distinguished scientist and an international leader in geosciences. His research focuses on the chemical cycles of pollutant and natural substances in the global atmosphere and the impact of air-sea exchange on the atmosphere and ocean. He is former dean of the College of Geosciences. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Association and the Oceanography Society and received the Rosenstiel Award. He is the chair of the National Academy of Sciences Ocean Studies Board.

Dr. Renyi Zhang

Renyi Zhang

Distinguished Professor
Department of Atmospheric Sciences

Appointed September 1, 2014

Renyi Zhang joined the faculty in Texas A&M’s Departments of Atmospheric Sciences of College of Geosciences (1997) and Chemistry of College of Science (2007). He earned a Ph.D. from MIT and completed postdoctoral work at Caltech/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He is holder of the Harold J. Haynes Endowed Chair in Geosciences. His early research contributed to the understanding of stratospheric ozone depletion and formation of the “Antarctic Ozone Hole”?. His research at Texas A&M has led to breakthroughs and paradigm shifts in several atmospheric fields—photochemical oxidation of hydrocarbons; formation, growth, and properties of aerosols; urban and regional air pollution; ambient measurements of trace gases and aerosols; and assessment of aerosol-cloud-climate interaction—and provided critical insights into the impacts of human activities on the environment, weather, and climate. He has published more than 160 papers in peer-refereed journals. Currently, Zhang serves as director of the Center for Atmospheric Chemistry and the Environment at Texas A&M, chairs the American Meteorological Society’s Atmospheric Chemistry Committee, is editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research”“Atmospheres and Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, and is a member of the International Commission on Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Pollution. He has received numerous awards, including honorary professorships at Peking University and Fudan University in China, the Outstanding International Collaboration Researcher Award from the China National Science Foundation, The Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award—Research, the Bush Excellence Award for Faculty in International Research, and the Cheung-Kong Distinguished Scholar Award from the Ministry of Education”“China. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

Dr. Ping Yang


Distinguished Professor
Department Atmospheric Sciences

Appointed February 28, 2021

Dr. Yang is University Distinguished Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University (TAMU), College Station, Texas, USA, where he also served as Head of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences during 2012 -2018. In addition, he has a joint professorship appointment with the Department of Physics & Astronomy and holds the David Bullock Harris Chair in geosciences at TAMU. Dr. Yang has supervised the completion of 29 doctoral dissertations and 20 master’s degree theses. As of 10 June 2021, Dr. Yang has published 334 peer-reviewed journal papers and 4 monographs. According to Web of Science, the number of the citations of Dr. Yang’s papers is 13,409 with an H-index of 57 (the corresponding number of the Google Scholar based citations is 20,237 with an H-index of 72). His research focuses on light scattering, radiative transfer, remote sensing. Dr. Yang is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), the Optical Society of America (OSA), The Electromagnetics Academy, the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the American Meteorological Society (AMS), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. Yang is a recipient of NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (2017), Ascent Award by the AGU Atmospheric Science Section (2013), and the David and Lucille Atlas Remote Sensing Prize by AMS (2020). At TAMU, Dr. Yang received the university-level faculty research award bestowed by The Association of Former Students in 2017 and several college-level awards. Dr. Yang earned his Ph.D. degree at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.