Last seen in full Santa regalia at Burger Bob’s to the delight of several children there to celebrate Lynn Bauer’s birthday on Christmas Eve was Dr. Hal Wanless. That this renowned professor would willingly don the costume for the occasion speaks volumes and shows the character of a man who does not take himself too seriously. On the other hand, as chair of the University of Miami’s Geology Department, Dr. Wanless has become the global warming “go to” person and that is a subject he takes very seriously.
Dr. Wanless actively interacts with policy and legislative groups on both the local and federal levels speaking to such groups as the Everglades Coalition at its annual meetings as well as to various Florida legislative committees, environmental and industry executives and steering committees, and the Council on Environmental Quality in the White House.
Dr. Wanless has earned a reputation with an impressive educational background including a Master of Science in Marine Geology from the School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami; a BA in Geology at Princeton University, and a PhD in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins University.
That Dr. Wanless is a leading expert on the subject of global warming is no surprise as his master’s thesis was documenting the evolution of sedimentary environments in Biscayne Bay as rising sea level flooded the bay over the past 6,000 years. His doctoral dissertation was a paleo-environmental reconstruction of the early Paleozoic (Middle Cambrian) sediment strata in the Grand Canyon, a sequence recording dozens of marine to non-marine cycles resulting from sea level cycles.
As a Cooper Fellow, board member of The CLEO Institute and co-chair of the Science Committee of the Miami-Dade County Climate Change Advisory Task Force, Dr. Wanless advises and has an educational series revealing the frightening reality of the ice melt pace and providing the science background for and projections of sea level rise for the coming century.
His passion for teaching extends beyond the classroom to several field trips each year with student groups to various locations including New Mexico, studying ancient reefs to as far north as Labrador and Newfoundland. Study trips also extend from the Turks and Caicos, San Salvador and Texas to as far away as Greenland where global warming studies of glaciers center on the Jacobshaben Fjord in Illulistat, Greenland.
While Dr. Wanless is the father of three grown children and a grandpa to three, he fills a paternal void to many others such as the 60 or more children of Sunil’s Home Orphanage in India whom he came to know through his fiancé.
Dr. Hal Wanless is a man of great warmth, compassion, humor and intellect who has certainly made a positive impact on all who have the good fortune to know him.