Parizek receives Faculty Scholar Award

Associate Professor of Mathematics and Geosciences Byron Parizek.

Associate Professor of Mathematics and Geosciences Byron Parizek during a trip to conduct field research on ice sheets in Alaska.

Credit: Penn State

DUBOIS, Pa. — Penn State DuBois Associate Professor of Mathematics and Geosciences Byron Parizek has been honored with the University College Faculty Scholar Award. In its inaugural year, the award will be given annually to a full-time or part-time faculty member in Penn State's 14-campus University College system who has demonstrated excellence in research, scholarship and/or creative accomplishments. It is also in recognition of significant and sustained contribution of research, scholarship and creative accomplishments accumulated during their employment at Penn State, as well as with undergraduate students, and to those who have had a significant impact on their academic field of study.

Parizek's central research focus is on glaciers, and particularly on the processes that govern ice sheet growth and collapse, and the resulting impacts on sea level as well as climate change. His findings have served to help improve predictions of future changes in ice sheets and their effects on global water and energy cycles in coming decades, and even centuries.

With over a decade of continuous funding support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Parizek is a mentor to future generations of scientists, inviting undergraduate students to collaborate with him on research in order to gain real-world experience. A research project that included four Penn State DuBois undergraduates highlighted that West Antarctic Ice Sheet stability is contingent on atmosphere-ice-ocean-solid Earth interactions. This particular study was cited in the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment and has, in part, helped fuel an internationally funded call to collect additional, targeted data on Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica within the next five years.

Over the past five years, these collective research efforts have led to two new grants, 16 peer-reviewed publications, more than 500 citations, and 49 professional presentations.

"On behalf of the history of outstanding research and creative activities involving undergraduate students from Penn State DuBois, it is so nice to have our campus and stakeholders recognized in the inaugural year of this award," Parizek said.

Parizek has presented his research as far away as NYU Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and, at the 2016 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, was invited by NSF to discuss gaps in our process-based understanding of ice-sheet flow and how we can accelerate scientific discovery under interagency support through the U.S. government.

He was elected a member of the Penn State Department of Geosciences graduate faculty in the spring of 2014.