Dr. Hans-Otto Pörtner – Doctor of Science


Dr. Hans-Otto Pörtner is co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel in Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II that is assessing the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change and options for adapting to it.

Dr. Pörtner is also Professor and Head of the Department of Integrative Ecophysiology at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Marine and Polar Research in Bremerhaven, Germany. He has established theory and evidence on effects of climate warming, ocean acidification, and hypoxia on marine animals and ecosystems. His efforts focus on linking biogeography and ecosystem functioning to molecular, biochemical and physiological mechanisms shaping organism tolerance and performance.

Dr. Pörtner studied at Münster and Düsseldorf Universities, where he received his PhD and habilitated in Animal Physiology. As a Research and then Heisenberg Fellow of the German Research Council, he worked at Dalhousie and Acadia Universities, and at the Lovelace Medical Foundation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

An internationally respected biologist, Dr. Pörtner is known for his expertise on climate change and related physiology of marine animals. He has made considerable contributions, through his work with the IPCC, to our understanding that the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly severe and irreversible. His work lays the foundation for setting long-term climate change targets for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Conference of the Parties (COP) negotiation process. Dr. Pörtner’s early-career experience at Acadia influenced his research and connects him to Nova Scotia.

He acts as associate editor of ‘Physiology’ for Marine Biology and as a co-editor of the Journal of Thermal Biology. He was Honorary International Associate Member of the Society of Integrative Biology between 2006 and 2013. He gave the Peter Hochachka Memorial Lecture at University of British Columbia in 2007, the Plymouth Marine Lecture in 2013, and the Bidder Lecture of the Society for Experimental Biology in Florence in 2018. In 2012, he was the W.F. James Professor of Pure and Applied Sciences at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., and in October 2015 he was elected Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II for its 6th assessment cycle. He is an elected member of the European Academy of Sciences, the German Advisory Council on Global Change, and a Web of Science highly cited researcher.

He has had more than 300 publications in peer-reviewed journals, and multiple invited contributions. Informing the debate between science, policy and society is a key focus of Dr. Pörtner’s work and is much needed to overcome the present societal inertia in the development and implementation of solution strategies.

Unfortunately, Dr. Hans-Otto Pörtner was unable to visit Acadia during the spring 2022 convocation ceremonies to be recognized with an honorary Doctor of Science degree. The University will identify an appropriate alternative date to bestow this honor upon Dr. Pörtner in the near future.