Daniel Rothman

Co-Director, MIT Lorenz Center
Professor of Geophysics

Contact Info:



Office Phone






Alma Pellecer 617.324.1960

Theoretical scientist studying the dynamics of the Earth system and the organization of the microbial biosphere.

Research Interests

I am a theoretical scientist. My current interests focus on understanding how the organization of the natural world emerges from the interactions of life and the physical environment. This work uses mathematics in addition to statistical and nonlinear physics. The carbon cycle and its coupling to climate are central to the effort. Despite the huge societal interest in such problems, fundamental mysteries remain unsolved. For example, how do global biogeochemical cycles arise and evolve? Are they stable? How do they impact the stability of climate? To address such questions, I typically construct simple mathematical models that predict or explain observational data.

Topics I investigate:

  • Dynamics of the carbon cycle and climate
  • Instabilities and tipping points in the Earth system
  • Dynamical organization of the microbial biosphere

Biographic Sketch:

Rothman joined the EAPS faculty in 1986, after receiving his AB in applied mathematics from Brown University and his PhD in geophysics from Stanford University. His work has contributed widely to the understanding of the organization of the natural environment, resulting in fundamental advances in subjects ranging from seismology and fluid flow to biogeochemistry and geobiology. He has also made significant contributions to research in statistical physics. In 2011, Rothman and his colleague Kerry Emanuel co-founded MIT’s Lorenz Center, a privately funded interdisciplinary research center devoted to learning how climate works.

Key Awards & Honors

  • 2016 • Levi L. Conant Prize, American Mathematical Society
  • 2014 • Fellow, American Geophysical Union
  • 2012 • Fellow, American Physical Society
  • 2007 • Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Key Publications

  • Rothman, D. H., Slow closure of Earth’s carbon cycle, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 121, e2310998121, (2024) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2310998121

  • Rothman, D. H., Characteristic disruptions of Earth’s carbon cycle, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116, 14813-14822 (2019) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1905164116

  • Rothman, D. H., Earth’s carbon cycle: A mathematical perspective, Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society 52, 47-64 (2015) DOI: 10.1090/S0273-0979-2014-01471-5