Robert Howarth is an Earth systems scientist and ecosystem biologist. He earned a BA from Amherst College (1974) and a Ph.D. jointly from MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (1979). After several years as a staff scientist in Woods Hole, Howarth joined the faculty at Cornell University in 1985 and was appointed the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology & Environmental Biology in 1993. Howarth is the Founding Editor of the scholarly journal Biogeochemistry and served as Editor-in-Chief for more than 20 years. Since 2014, he has been the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Limnology & Oceanography. Howarth has published over 200 scientific papers, reports, and book chapters. His most recent book is the 4th edition of the text Essentials of Ecology (Begon, Howarth, and Townsend, 2014).
Howarth’s research interests include: application of science to sustaining the biosphere; biogeochemistry and aquatic ecosystem science; global and regional nitrogen and phosphorus cycles; global methane cycle; environmental consequences of biofuels; role of trace gases in global warming and climate disruption; life-cycle analysis for greenhouse-gas footprint of energy technologies; influence of land-use, management practices, and climate change on nutrient fluxes from the landscape; atmospheric deposition of nitrogen onto the landscape; controls and consequences of eutrophication in estuaries; biotic, physical, and geochemical controls on nitrogen fixation; environmental management and the effects of pollutants on aquatic ecosystems.
In 2011, Howarth published the first comprehensive analysis of the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas in Climatic Change Letters and an invited commentary on shale gas in Nature. This work was cited in over 1,500 newspapers globally, winning Howarth an honorable mention as one of “50 People who Matter” in the annual Time Magazine Person of the Year issue for 2011.