White received the honor in recognition of his extensive and ongoing research contributions in the field of sedimentary geology and his significant support to the study of critical zone processes.
“Long ago when I took a research faculty position at Penn State, I accepted the fact that I’m not going to get a lot of recognition for what I do,” said White. “Being elected a Fellow of the GSA was unexpected. I feel really honored to be recognized by my peers as being in the top group of geologists.”
White, who serves as the sustainability officer for Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, has published in the top peer-reviewed journals of his field, including Nature Geoscience, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Geology, Geological Society of America Bulletin, and Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology. His recent research has focused on using tiny minerals called siderite spherules to reconstruct the past climate during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum nearly 56 million years ago.
He has also served as the national office coordinator and director of the National Science Foundation-funded Critical Zone Observatories network and has co-led an annual summer course in Piedmont, Italy, for international researchers interested in studying critical zone science. He is currently part of a research team working on critical zone science spanning sites in the U.S., France, Italy, Japan and Taiwan through the Belmont Forum.
Prior to joining Penn State, White spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Iowa and 3 1/2 years with the U.S. Geological Survey in Anchorage, Alaska. His research responsibilities at Penn State have led to travels across the globe, including western Europe, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Australia, Mexico and Brazil, as well as time at sea. In addition, he is a National Association of Underwater Instructors SCUBA instructor and oversees Penn State's Scientific Diving program, with courses that involve diving in Florida, the Bahamas and throughout Pennsylvania.
White holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from Washington and Lee University and earned his master’s degree in geology and doctoral degree in geosciences from Penn State.