David Griffith

David W.T. Griffith

Citation delivered by Professor Tracy Moroney, Executive Dean (Interim), Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of David W.T. Griffith as an Emeritus Professor of the University on 28 April 2021.

Deputy Chancellor, I present Senior Professor David Griffith.

An outstanding scientist with deep expertise in spectroscopy spanning more than four decades, David Griffith has made a remarkable contribution to the field of atmospheric chemistry and to fostering ongoing research excellence.

David’s impact began as a research fellow in the Australian National University, and was further expanded in his roles as CSIRO Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Scientist at the United States’ National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Staff Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany. He joined UOW in 1986, earning promotion to Professor in 2010 and Senior Professor in 2015 in recognition of his unparalleled contribution to atmospheric science and spectroscopy and its application to a sustainable world.

Among his most notable achievements, David drove global international collaboration for research into the carbon cycle. He established Total Carbon Column Observing Network foundation stations in Darwin and Wollongong, seeking to measure greenhouse gases with unprecedented accuracy and precision. His efforts served to validate the new generation of greenhouse gas-observing satellites, underpin global carbon cycle models to define the sources, sinks and distribution of these gases, and inform national inventories, carbon accounting and mitigation policy. Total Carbon Column Observing Network’s ongoing status as a highly effective global network and the international gold standard for carbon dioxide total column measurements is due in no small part to David’s influence.

David has made a phenomenal contribution to the scientific characterisation of the changing atmosphere. He established Wollongong as a certified site in the Network for Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change in 1996, installing a high-resolution Fourier-transform spectrometer and custom-built solar tracker. It remains in operation today, having provided an infinitely valuable 25-year continuous record of atmospheric composition above Wollongong that has generated countless publications and delivered unique opportunities for students and researchers. Its data are relied on to validate and calibrate global distributions of trace gases from satellite sensors by leading space agencies across Europe, the Americas and more.

Early in his career, while with the Max Planck Institute, David developed and applied the novel Matrix Isolation Fourier-Transform Infrared trace gas analysis technique, with applications including air quality characterisation, agricultural practices, industrial pollution and pollution arising from fires. More recently, he led his UOW research team to develop a next-generation multi-species trace gas analyser known as Spectronus, commercially licenced to Australian company Ecotech P/L and sold around the world, supported by his consultancy Griffspec Pty Ltd.

Central to David’s applied research impact is his eye for commercial opportunities and the drive to collaborate across all sectors. He holds a patent behind the Spectronus development, has delivered a wide array of commercial contract research partnerships, and has been extensively published, cited and recognised through prestigious international appointments, advisory roles and awards. A committed mentor and educator, he has inspired students at all levels and supervised honours, PhD, postdoctoral and early career researchers.

Deputy Chancellor, David Griffith has made a colossal and sustained contribution to his field and to establishing our University and region as a leader in the sector. Though he retired in 2020, he continues to advance atmospheric chemistry research and elevate the next generation of atmospheric chemists.

It is a privilege to present Senior Professor David Griffith to be admitted as an Emeritus Professor of the University of Wollongong.