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Clarkson University's Hopke Hits 600-paper Milestone

By the time Clarkson University Professor Emeritus Philip K. Hopke announced he had published his 600th scientific paper, he actually had hit 603, and the count is still rising weekly. Bear in mind, he just retired in May.

Philip K. HopkeOfficially titled Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Hopke is renowned internationally as a preeminent researcher in atmospheric and aerosol science and engineering.

He founded and directed the Center for Air Resources Engineering and Science (CARES) and was the founder and first director of the Institute for a Sustainable Environment (ISE), both at Clarkson. Accordingly, as he points out, he generates and has access to a lot of information.

“I wrote my first paper in 1967 and I came to Clarkson with 132 of them published,” he recalls. “My publications really accelerated over the last 15 years, when I finally had an analytical lab to produce my own data. I have a large network of collaboration, so I do a lot of editing and rewriting that builds better science into these papers, which count as part of the 600-plus total papers.”

This level of productivity is all the more amazing in light of a new study out of Stanford University that estimates fewer than one percent of scientists manage to publish one paper a year.

Hopke acknowledges the utility of having a high rank in publishing and citations. A variety of indices provide an easy basis of comparison of researchers and their work. After all, “it's easier to count than to read,” he notes, but the indices do give a basic measurement of the impact the papers are having.

“A really bad paper will get a lot of reads, too, because people want to correct you,” he points out. “It's not just publishing that you want to accomplish, but provide information that people find useful and quote in their work.”

The attention his papers receive draws attention from new colleagues as well as strangers seeking help. Hopke just heard from someone in South Africa who wants to use his data-analysis technique.

“I opened a dialog with him that could well lead to a paper,” Hopke says. “You develop methods so other people can use them, not just for yourself. It can be complicated at first to follow another person's work, so they may need guidance. Many have even come to Potsdam over the years, for two weeks to several months, so we can work with them directly.”

The information he shares is wide-ranging. Paper No. 600 looked at biocumulative toxic chemicals in fish and their food web. He also just sent off a paper related to wood pellet boilers, including a review of a residential boiler in Potsdam. He travels regularly to China to help them monitor and improve air quality.

“I'm working on a lot of the same things as I was before retirement. A group in New Delhi, India, is working with us on a several papers. So are people from Nigeria. I have a large number of collaborations all over the world who have interesting air quality problems to solve,” he says.

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, New York, and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.

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