David McGee’s research focuses on understanding the atmosphere’s response to past climate changes. In the field, he documents past changes in precipitation and winds using geochemical measurements of stalagmites, lake deposits, and marine sediments and interpreting these records in the light of models and theory. Using these, he aims to offer data-based insights into the patterns, pace, and magnitude of past hydroclimate changes. McGee’s primary tool is measurements of uranium-series isotopes, which provide precise uranium-thorium dates for stalagmites and lake deposits and allow reconstructions of windblown dust emission and transport using marine sediments.
Additionally, McGee has been involved in several prominent activities and committees around campus, working to improve the quality of education and experience of students. Since he joined MIT, he has advised first year students, as well as participated in and currently directs Terrascope, an MIT First Year Learning Community. McGee has also served on numerous committees: Environmental Solutions Initiative Faculty Advisory Committee, Graduate Education Committee, Graduate Admissions Committee, MIT-WHOI Joint Committee for Marine Geology and Geophysics, EAPS Faculty Search Oversight Committee representative, Departmental Lecture Series Committee, Departmental Undergraduate Education Committee, Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate Colloquium Committee, and the ClimateX Advisory Board.
In recognition of his dedication to academic advising, McGee received the 2018 Excellence in Mentoring Award from MIT’s Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming office.
McGee earned a BA in geology from Carleton College in 1997. Afterwards, he received two master’s degrees: the first in teaching from Chatham College in 2003, and the second from Tulane University in 2006 for earth and environmental sciences. McGee completed his PhD in 2009 in earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University before taking postdoctoral fellowship with a joint appointment at the University of Minnesota and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. In 2012, he joined the MIT faculty in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS).