Geophysicist Jeremy Bloxham has been named dean for the physical sciences in Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), Dean Jeremy R. Knowles announced Aug. 10.

Bloxham’s appointment as divisional dean is effective immediately. He is currently Harvard College Professor and Mallinckrodt Professor of Geophysics, as well as professor of computational science in Harvard’s Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“Professor Bloxham’s leadership will support and develop our programs in the physical sciences,” Knowles said. “His research and teaching contributions have made him a very valued colleague for nearly two decades, and he has been a wise and successful chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences for the past six years. I greatly look forward to working with him in this new role.”

“We owe Dean Venkatesh Narayanamurti our gratitude for his three years as our first physical sciences dean,” Knowles added. “He has nurtured and developed the physical sciences at Harvard, and I am very grateful for his skillful leadership.”

As divisional dean, Bloxham will support the needs of the faculty in the physical sciences, manage financial and space resources, assist with academic planning within and across departments, and foster connections among the four major academic divisions of the FAS. He will advise the FAS dean on the allocation of faculty positions and on broad priorities within the physical sciences, which include the departments of Astronomy; Earth and Planetary Sciences; Mathematics; Physics; and Statistics. Finally, Bloxham will work with department chairs to ensure that faculty searches produce outstanding and diverse candidates.

First appointed to the Harvard faculty as an assistant professor in 1987, Bloxham was promoted to full professor in 1993 and assumed the Mallinckrodt chair in 2005. In 2002, he was named a Harvard College Professor, a distinction recognizing exceptional undergraduate teaching.

Bloxham studies how planets generate magnetic fields, a long-recognized dynamic phenomenon that is still not fully understood despite more than four centuries of scientific investigation. His research group has developed a three-dimensional numerical model that could help explain why the Earth’s magnetic field has weakened by as much as 10 percent over the past 150 years. Other interests include the application of high-performance computing and visualization to problems in geophysics.

Bloxham holds a B.A. and an M.A. in mathematics from Cambridge University, awarded in 1982 and 1986, respectively, and a Ph.D. in geophysics awarded by Cambridge University in 1986. He is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the American Geophysical Union, and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

Bloxham, who has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Geophysical Research and Geophysical Journal International, has received professional honors including a Packard Foundation Fellowship in 1990, the Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1991, the Macelwane Medal of the American Geophysical Union in 1994, and the Chapman Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2001.