Seven years ago, Rob Jackson and his graduate student drove around the city of Boston—back and forth, back and forth, up and down every block like a lawnmower. With a laser instrument in tow, the scientists mapped more than 3,000 natural gas leaks. This collaborative effort, involving Jackson’s Duke University team and a Boston University group led by Nathan Phillips, produced the first public map showing natural gas leaks in a city.
Two years later, the Massachusetts legislature passed a safety bill that included accelerated natural gas pipeline replacements and faster cost recovery for utility companies. It was a win-win.
This is one of the success stories that Jackson, now professor of earth system science at Stanford University, can claim for his research. He spoke Oct. 28 on climate change problems and solutions during a New Horizons in Science session organized by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writers at the ScienceWriters 2019 conference, and sat down to talk about his career.