Office Hours: Adam Burnett

Colin Sheridan

“You can’t come to Colgate and not fall in love with it,” William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Geography Adam Burnett said.

Professor Burnett has been at Colgate since 1990 and has spe-cialized in climatology, environ-mental studies and geographic information systems.

“Geography is a nice field be-cause it is naturally interdisciplin-ary,” Burnett said. “In the geogra-phy department we have physical geographers like me, others that study human systems, like eco-nomics, and still others that bring the two together to study human-environmental interaction. It’s a great field to be in if you want to see multiple dimensions and look across disciplines.”

Professor Burnett received his B.A. from Aquinas College and then went to Ohio University for his masters in geography. He then studied at Michigan State Univer-sity where he earned his PhD, also in geography.

“As a Midwest kind of kid, I never really thought too much about teaching at an East Coast university. But accepting a job of-fer from Colgate wasn’t a tough decision, and after experiencing the comfortable feeling of the university, I took it right away. As it turns out, I’ve visited plenty of other schools, and I haven’t found a better place to be,” Burnett said.

He referred to the school’s em-phasis on teaching as well as its opportunities for research along-side undergraduates as reasons for coming to Colgate.

As a climatologist, Professor Burnett studies long-term weather patterns. He is currently doing research outside of the classroom on lake-effect snow, the process by which cold air that moves across warmer lake water produces cooler atmospheric conditions. Burnett explained that the cold weather and heavy snowfall that we experi-ence in Hamilton is largely attrib-uted to lake-effect snow from the Great Lakes, though he noted that this year’s low amount of snowfall was a remarkable exception.

In addition, Professor Burnett is working with his senior semi-nar students to examine lake sed-iments near Cayuga Lake, using their findings to trace back 3,000 years and detect when the onset of human modifications in the landscape occurred.

Professor Burnett lives in Caze-novia where he works with Project Caf?e, a group that focuses on service opportunities and drug- and alco-hol-free after school entertainment for local kids.

When asked about the fore-cast for this year’s Spring Party Weekend, he said. “A lot of people have been asking me about that, actually. But as a climatolo-gist, and not a meteorologist, I say that I would be better at telling you about the weather from 1852 than next weekend.”

Even so, Burnett was able to give a prediction, and said that unfortunately we’re likely to see some rainfall this weekend.

“On Thursday there’s a weak storm system coming in from the West,” he said, “but in my expert opinion, I’m predicting you’ll still have fun.”

Contact Colin Sheridan at [email protected]