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Chemist-turned-intelligence expert Rod Schoonover on climate change and COVID-19

Rod Schoonover doesn’t fit easily into a particular academic niche. He spent a dozen years as a chemistry professor, yet his published papers are in physics journals. A career twist then landed him working in the US intelligence community, where he spent a decade focused on climate change, environment, health, and other scientific issues.

“I’d never planned on doing this,” he says. “The idea that someone like me would end up in the intelligence community did not seem likely.”

Last year, a political fight over climate change science led Schoonover to resign his government position. Now he teaches climate science part-time and consults on the security implications of global ecological disruption and climate change, including their contributions to the risks of pandemics from diseases such as COVID-19.

▸ Current position: Founder and CEO, Ecological Futures Group, and adjunct professor, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service

▸ Professional highlights: Senior scientist/senior analyst, US Department of State; director of environment and natural resources, US National Security Council; professor of chemistry, California Polytechnic State University

▸ Education: BS, chemistry and physics, University of Kansas, 1986; PhD, physical chemistry, University of Michigan, 1993▸ How he calmed his nerves at the congressional hearing last year: “I brought a picture […]

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