James J. O’Brien is an expert on El Niño, in which unusually warm water forms in the eastern Pacific off the coast of South America, affecting global ecosystems and jet stream location. After graduating from Rutgers, he was commissioned as a U.S. Air Force officer assigned to meteorology. Within a decade, he received a doctorate and was a full professor at Florida State University, where he is professor emeritus of meteorology and oceanography and of the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies. Florida State’s president has called him a “dedicated, effective teacher and an innovative, daring researcher.” O’Brien was one of the first scientists to recognize the role of tropical oceans in the El Niño/ Southern Oscillation phenomenon. Predicting El Niños can affect the agriculture, fishing, and forestry industries, as well as hurricane forecasting. Among his many honors include the Sverdrup Gold Medal in Air-Sea Interaction. O’Brien is a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and the Norwegian Academy of Letters and Sciences. He is also a fellow of the American and Royal meteorological societies and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
James J. O’Brien
Rutgers College 1957
Hall of Distinguished Alumni Class of