Susan Lozier began her service as the new Dean and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair of the College of Sciences on September 1.
Lozier’s path to Georgia Tech is marked by excellence in research, education, and leadership, as well as the integration of scientific disciplines and a passion for mentoring. As dean, she will bring her vast experience to bear in addressing the needs of the College as she leads it to the next levels of achievement.
In the next few months, Lozier will meet with and listen to the College’s diverse constituents.
"Reaching out to everyone and understanding their concerns and their vision for the College moving ahead is important to me."
Broadly, Lozier has three goals as dean:
- To strengthen the sense of community among students, alumni, faculty, research scientists/postdocs, and staff
- To elevate sciences and mathematics research and education across Georgia Tech and beyond
- To develop resources to support College of Sciences innovators in pursuing special projects, new research directions, and teaching and outreach opportunities.
About the first goal, Lozier says, “I’m very interested in making sure everybody understands that they are valued members of the College and that their contributions are highly appreciated.” She’s especially keen to bolster students’ identification with the College as their home, in addition to their natural affinity for their schools.
Of the second goal, Lozier says she wants to “immerse myself in the work of the College so I can be an effective communicator of that work, which is necessary for me to achieve my third goal,” which is to develop resources for people to advance their innovative ideas.
Lozier joins Georgia Tech from her previous position as the Ronie-Richele Garcia-Johnson Distinguished Professor of Ocean Sciences at Duke University. The named chair is the highest honor that the university can bestow on a faculty member. Lozier also was Duke’s vice-provost for strategic planning in 2015-17.
Lozier begins her deanship while also serving as President-elect of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). The scientific organization of more than 60,000 members in 137 countries is a leading voice for science toward a sustainable future. Lozier will serve as AGU president in 2021-22.
Among her many scientific and educational honors and accolades, Lozier says she is proudest of the Duke University Award for Excellence in Mentoring, which she received in 2007. “This award was quite meaningful to me because my graduate students nominated me for it,” she says. She adds that mentoring of graduate students—where research and teaching intersect—has brought her an enormous sense of accomplishment.
Ten years later her commitment to mentoring was more broadly recognized by the American Meteorological Society. In 2017, Lozier received the society’s Joanne Simpson Mentorship Award “for leadership in establishing a nationwide mentoring program for early-career female physical oceanographers and serving as a mentoring role model for the community.”
Like many, her interest in science was sparked by exposure to great teachers. “I grew up southern Indiana, and in grade school, I had a fantastic math teacher; I just loved math,” Lozier says. “In high school though I was strongly influenced by a chemistry teacher, who was not only an excellent classroom teacher but also an excellent mentor.”
With her curiosity for science and mathematics ignited in high school, Lozier won a scholarship to pursue a B.S. in chemical engineering at Purdue University. After graduation she worked as a chemical engineer for the DuPont Company. But graduate school beckoned, and after three years she went to the University of Washington in Seattle to earn a master’s degree in chemical engineering.
“What I really enjoyed about chemical engineering was the study of fluid dynamics,” she says. “While in Seattle, I realized that instead of studying flow through a pipe, I could study flow in the ocean.” With this new interest, she joined the Ph.D. program in ocean sciences after completing a master’s degree in chemical engineering.
As a physical oceanographer, Lozier primarily studies ocean circulation, but she also has a focus on how ocean physics impacts marine ecosystems. “With my early interest in math and science, oceanography is a great fit for me because it integrates math, physics, chemistry, and biology,” she says.
As dean, Lozier will continue her research, studying the large-scale overturning circulation of the ocean, also known as the ocean conveyor belt. “I am interested in the overturning circulation because it impacts regional and global climate through its redistribution of heat. Additionally, the overturning circulation is responsible for taking anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere and sequestering it in the deep ocean. Thus, an understanding of the overturning circulation and its variability is critical to our understanding of how our climate will evolve.”
In summer 2020, Lozier will join a research cruise of the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program (OSNAP), the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded, international collaboration she leads. OSNAP aims “to provide a continuous record of the full-water column, trans-basin fluxes of heat, mass and freshwater in the subpolar North Atlantic.”
During field work, Lozier and others will measure ocean properties such as temperature and salinity from ship-borne instruments, as well as deploy moored instruments that will measure the ocean’s velocity field. OSNAP also uses data from satellites, ocean gliders and floats. OSNAP is providing much-needed data to understand the role of ocean circulation in the present, and future climate and will help improve climate models that are used in the assessments by the International Panel on Climate Change.
Her Other Interests
Lozier comes from a large family; she is one of six children. She and her husband have two adult sons. “In my free time, my first choice is to spend time with my immediate and extended family,” she says. In addition, she and her husband are bicyclists: Last May they biked all 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Lozier loves gardening, and swimming in the open ocean. During a National Geographic cruise last June, she took the “Polar Plunge” in the Arctic Ocean when the ship was stopped by ice just a few miles shy of 80 degrees north. “That water was the coldest I have ever been in,” she says. “It was 31.4 degrees Fahrenheit. I can hardly count that as a swim though, since I was in the water for at most five seconds! ”
Lozier is also interested in the history of the American presidency. “I’m currently reading “Path to Power,” the first of a multi-volume biography of President Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro. “Believe it or not, it’s a page-turner!”