Setting A New Course:  Avissar Takes Helm of UM’s Rosenstiel School

Roni Avissar

Virginia Key, Fla. —The University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions, has new leadership at the helm. Dr. Roni Avissar, a distinguished atmospheric scientist and scholar joined the School on June 1 as its new dean. He replaces Dr. Otis Brown who served in that capacity for 14 years.

Throughout his distinguished career Avissar’s work has been funded by various federal agencies, private industry, and international organizations. Over the past 15 years, he has conducted extensive research on the deforestation of the Amazon River basin and its effect on regional and global weather and climate patterns. His research continues to contribute greatly to the improvement of weather forecasting (including hurricanes) and climate models.  Together with Dr. Robert L. Walko, a senior scientist who has also joined him at the Rosenstiel School, they have developed the Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Model (OLAM), a new-generation of weather forecasting and climate model. Avissar also developed the Helicopter Observation Platform (HOP) that is uniquely equipped to observe the environment near the Earth’s surface.

Avissar was previously at Duke University, serving as the W.H. Gardner Professor and Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from 2001 until 2006. Under his leadership the department increased its external funding by an order of magnitude and restructured its doctoral program, elevating it to one of the top 20 environmental engineering departments, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Prior to working at Duke he was at Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey where he spent twelve years, including three years as Department of Environmental Sciences Chair and Director of the Center for Environmental Prediction, which he founded in 1998.

Avissar has moved quickly to restructure the administration and establish a strong leadership team that will help to implement his vision for the Rosenstiel School.  Avissar recently named Dr. Robert K. Cowen, associate dean for Research, and Dr. Hans C. Graber, associate dean for Infrastructure and executive director of the Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS).  He has also established a faculty development committee chaired by Dr. Michael Schmale, which will work with Rosemary Mann, the newly-appointed assistant dean for Advancement at the School. 

Avissar is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), as well as the American Meteorological Society (AMS). He is currently the editor of Earth Interactions, a peer-reviewed journal published jointly by AGU and AMS.  Born and raised in France, Avissar immigrated to Israel at the age of 17.  He received his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science (Summa Cum Laude) and a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University. 

About the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School
The University of Miami is the largest private research institution in the southeastern United States. The University’s mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:

Barbra Gonzalez
UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Marie Guma-Diaz
UM Media Relations Office

dr. roni avissar •  dean •  rsmas •  administration •  leadership •