Dr. Pagani was appointed Director of the YCEI in July of 2012. He is a Professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics. His research group studies the character of ancient climates by reconstructing patterns of regional and global temperature change, hydrological conditions, and the evolution of atmospheric carbon dioxide. This work helps prioritize the factors responsible for past climatic events and places future climate change within a geological context. His research constrains the physical and environmental conditions of ancient oceans, terrestrial systems, and the atmosphere through proxy records founded on the isotopic compositions and abundances of organic molecules (biomarkers), and stable-isotope compositions of carbonates. Projects range from the study of very ancient episodes of global warming 5 to 55 million years ago to the demise of the classic Maya culture.
Some of his past and current projects include multi-million year reconstructions of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the high-latitude expression of temperature change during the onset of polar continental ice, and the impact of rapid, extreme warming on regional and hemispheric hydrological conditions.