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G. Michael Purdy

Faculty Affiliate; Executive Vice President for Research, Columbia University; Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences

G. Michael Purdy, Ph.D., assumed the role of Executive Vice President for Research on February 1, 2011. Reporting directly to President Bollinger, Mike works closely with Provost John Coatsworth and other University leaders on research strategy, and they share the goal of fostering an environment that attracts the brightest and most creative faculty and students to pursue questions that will elucidate and improve our world.  His office also establishes and administers the policies that govern the conduct of research and oversees the management of its research programs. It also assists investigators seeking external funding, promotes interdisciplinary research and awards seed money for early-stage investigations. 

He joined the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts as a Post Doctoral Scholar. Over the next 20 years, he built a successful research group specializing in observational ocean bottom seismology, studying the structure and dynamics of the earth's crust beneath the ocean. In 1991, he became Chairman of the Department of Geology and Geophysics (G&G) at WHOI, one of the world's leading Marine G&G Departments, and spent four years gaining experience in both national and international marine science planning and administration. He is author or co-author of more than 60 research articles in peer-reviewed journals, more than 20 other reports and articles, and more than 100 published conference abstracts.

In 1995 he joined the Federal Government as Director of the Division of Ocean Sciences at the National Science Foundation and spent five years managing an annual budget of more than $200M - the primary source of funding for ocean sciences research in the nation's universities. While at NSF he established the new multi-disciplinary research program "Life in Extreme Environments" and built several valuable interagency collaborations.

In 2000, Dr. Purdy joined Columbia University as the Director of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the single largest unit of the Columbia Earth Institute. In this position, his primary interests were in the building of a first-class interdisciplinary research institution that leads the world, not only in the quality of its research, but also in its ability to relate the results of this research to earth issues of importance to humanity. Over 120 Ph.D.-level researchers, 80-90 graduate students and an increasing number of undergraduates work and study at the Observatory.


  • Ph.D., University of Cambridge