Media Releases

Atmospheric physicist named director of University of Toronto’s new School of the Environment

January 15, 2013

TORONTO, ON — Kim­ber­ly Strong, a physi­cist who leads inves­ti­ga­tions of the Earth’s atmos­phere, will soon lead the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s new School of the Envi­ron­ment. Her term begins on July 1, 2013.

Strong’s research in atmos­pher­ic mea­sure­ments exam­ines such key envi­ron­men­tal issues as cli­mate change and its rela­tion­ship to con­tribut­ing fac­tors includ­ing stratos­pher­ic ozone deple­tion and tro­pos­pher­ic pol­lu­tion. She has direct­ed ground-based, bal­loon-borne and satel­lite projects to study the Earth’s atmos­phere, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Arc­tic.

“We are thrilled to have Kim Strong serve as direc­tor of the School of the Envi­ron­ment,” said Mer­ic S. Gertler, dean of the Fac­ul­ty of Arts & Sci­ence. “Kim has an extra­or­di­nary record as a researcher and has an envi­able track record in encour­ag­ing and sup­port­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of envi­ron­men­tal schol­ars and sci­en­tists. Under her lead­er­ship, the School will be known for inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research and teach­ing in envi­ron­ment that spans the sci­ences, social sci­ences and human­i­ties.”

Strong is one of the found­ing mem­bers of the Cana­di­an Net­work for the Detec­tion of Atmos­pher­ic Change, a group of researchers work­ing to improve atmos­pher­ic remote sound­ing in Cana­da. In 2004, the group obtained fund­ing from the Cana­da Foun­da­tion for Inno­va­tion to equip the Polar Envi­ron­ment Atmos­pher­ic Research Lab­o­ra­to­ry (PEARL) at Eure­ka, Nunavut to pro­vide a long-term data set for study­ing the evo­lu­tion of the Arc­tic atmos­phere and its year-to-year vari­abil­i­ty. From 1998 to 2006, Strong was prin­ci­pal inves­ti­ga­tor of theMid­dle Atmos­phere Nitro­gen TRend Assess­ment (MANTRA) project, a large col­lab­o­ra­tion that used high-alti­tude instru­ment-car­ry­ing bal­loons to mea­sure trace gas­es and inves­ti­gate the chang­ing chem­i­cal bal­ance in the mid-lat­i­tude stratos­phere. Strong is cur­rent­ly direc­tor of the Nat­ur­al Sci­ences and Engi­neer­ing Research Council’s Col­lab­o­ra­tive Research and Train­ing Expe­ri­ence (CREATE) Train­ing Pro­gram in Arc­tic Atmos­pher­ic Sci­ence. The pro­gram enhances the edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties avail­able to stu­dents and post­doc­tor­al fel­lows inter­est­ed in polar, atmos­pher­ic, and cli­mate sci­ences, includ­ing the use of state-of-the-art instru­men­ta­tion and analy­sis of large data sets.  She also runs U of T’s Atmos­pher­ic Obser­va­to­ry (TAO), is prin­ci­pal inves­ti­ga­tor of the new Cana­di­an Fouri­er Trans­form InfraRed Observ­ing Net­work (CAFTON), and is active­ly involved in sev­er­al projects relat­ed to bet­ter under­stand­ing of the atmos­pheres of Mars and Venus.

Strong and mem­bers of her group are active­ly involved in out­reach activ­i­ties, through an edu­ca­tion and out­reach pro­gram devel­oped by U of T physi­cist Kaley Walk­er. This began with a vis­it to Qar­mar­ta­lik School in Res­olute Bay, Nunavut in 2004, and has since expand­ed to schools in Hall Beach, Igloo­lik, Grise Fiord, Iqaluit, and Pond Inlet, as well as many pub­lic talks and vis­its to schools in South­ern Cana­da. Activ­i­ties rang­ing from the ambi­tious “North­ern Expe­ri­ence Pro­gram” under­tak­en as part of Inter­na­tion­al Polar Year, to the cur­rent “Stu­dent-Researchers Atmos­pher­ic Col­lab­o­ra­tion” have brought schools, stu­dents, and researchers togeth­er in cre­ative ways to enhance their learn­ing expe­ri­ence, excite them about sci­ence, and raise aware­ness of Arc­tic issues. Walk­er and Strong, with the help of two out­reach facil­i­ta­tors, grad­u­ate stu­dents, and post-docs, have devel­oped pre­sen­ta­tions and hands-on activ­i­ties appro­pri­ate for grades Kinder­garten to 12, on top­ics such as air pol­lu­tion, ozone deple­tion, cli­mate, Cana­di­an satel­lites, space sci­ence, and weath­er.  These activ­i­ties have led to invi­ta­tions to present hands-on work­shops at schools and at teach­ers’ con­fer­ences in Nunavut and Ontario.

Strong joined U of T’s Depart­ment of Physics as an assis­tant pro­fes­sor in 1996 and became asso­ciate pro­fes­sor in 2001, and pro­fes­sor in 2006.  She is also a mem­ber of U of T’s Cen­tre for Glob­al Change Sci­ence.  In 2010, Strong was a vis­it­ing fel­low at the Cen­tre for Atmos­pher­ic Chem­istry, Uni­ver­si­ty of Wol­lon­gong, Aus­tralia. Her awards include the Premier’s Research Excel­lence Award (2004) and an NSERC Dis­cov­ery Accel­er­a­tor Sup­ple­ment award for three years (2011).

The School of the Envi­ron­ment was estab­lished in July 2012 to lever­age the enor­mous breadth and depth of envi­ron­men­tal teach­ing and research exper­tise with­in the Fac­ul­ty of Arts & Sci­ence. The School offers an under­grad­u­ate B.A. pro­gram in envi­ron­men­tal stud­ies and a B.Sc. pro­gram in envi­ron­ment and sci­ence, with oth­er new pro­grams in devel­op­ment.  The School also part­ners with oth­er depart­ments and pro­grams at U of T to offer a range of col­lab­o­ra­tive under­grad­u­ate spe­cial­ists, majors and minors, involv­ing chem­istry, geog­ra­phy, earth sci­ences, human biol­o­gy, physics, phi­los­o­phy and oth­ers. At the grad­u­ate lev­el, inter­dis­ci­pli­nary col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­grams in Envi­ron­men­tal Stud­ies, as well as in Envi­ron­ment and Health, are offered in part­ner­ship with 20 oth­er units at the uni­ver­si­ty.  In addi­tion, dis­tance edu­ca­tion and cer­tifi­cate pro­grams pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment.

“I envi­sion the school as a dynam­ic unit that serves as a nexus for fac­ul­ty, bring­ing togeth­er schol­ars from a wide range of dis­ci­plines, strength­en­ing exist­ing links, and cre­at­ing new ways of col­lab­o­rat­ing and inter­act­ing with col­leagues,” said Strong.  “It will also serve as a mag­net for stu­dents inter­est­ed in the envi­ron­ment, offer­ing them the best cours­es and pro­grams in this field avail­able any­where.  Third­ly, the School will be a por­tal for the wider com­mu­ni­ty beyond the uni­ver­si­ty, pro­vid­ing access to all of the diverse and inter­dis­ci­pli­nary envi­ron­men­tal schol­ar­ship that is under­way here. My job is to make all three hap­pen!”



Kim Strong
Depart­ment of Physics
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to

Kim Luke
Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Fac­ul­ty of Arts & Sci­ence
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to