A recent celebration honored Professors Peter Stone and Paola Rizzoli’s ongoing dedication to EAPS and MIT through their research, teaching, and newly-announced endowment of an EAPS professorship in their names.
Between them, emeritus Professor Peter H. Stone and Professor Paola Malanotte (Stone) Rizzoli have been part of the MIT community for 77 years, and—even with Rizzoli eyeing an eventual retirement—there’s no end in sight for that figure. The couple have endowed a $5 million full professorship to the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences that will ensure an enduring presence on campus.
With the couple’s funding underway, it is the first full departmental professorship to be endowed for many years.
Stone and Rizzoli announced the generous gift in January, with a follow-up vow by department head Rob van der Hilst to convene a search committee for candidates in the atmospheric sciences, physical oceanography, climate sciences or planetary sciences.
“In addition to strengthening our programs, their gift will allow us the privilege of having their names forever associated with our department,” van der Hilst said.
A sunset reception in May, complete with catering and string quartet, celebrated the endowment and honored its givers, bringing together Institute President L. Rafael Reif and his wife, School of Science Dean Michael Sipser, former Dean Marc Kastner and his wife, and Vice President of Research and former EAPS Department Head Maria Zuber, as well as van der Hilst and faculty and friends.
The endowment (officially the Peter H. Stone Professor in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences until Rizzoli’s retirement, and then to be known as the Peter H. Stone and Paola Malanotte Stone Professor) would be only the latest gift from a couple whose work at MIT started in 1972 and 1981, respectively. He’s been a department leader, integral player in projects for NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and a key figure in the dynamics of baroclinic waves, which affect day-to-day variations of non-tropical weather and how it is affected by climate. Rizzoli devoted a dozen years to leading the the Institute’s Joint Program in Oceanography and Ocean Engineering with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and is credited by Reif for “tireless efforts to level the playing field” for women faculty, as well as helping bring on his predecessor—the Institute’s first female President, Susan Hockfield. Professor Rizzoli is also prominently known for her decades-long work safeguarding the ancient city of Venice, Italy, from waters rising as a result of climate change and tectonic shifting.
“Peter and Paola represent the very best about EAPS and about science at MIT,” said Sipser, noting their contributions across scientific fields as well as their leadership at the Institute.
“I am happy,” Stone said at the reception, surrounded by colleagues spanning the couple’s decades of work, “I love MIT.”
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