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19 researchers selected as 2008 Leopold Leadership Fellows

Nineteen environmental researchers from across North America have been awarded Leopold Leadership Fellowships for 2008.

Based at Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment, the Leopold Leadership Program was founded in 1998 and is funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Each year the program selects up to 20 mid-career academic environmental scientists as fellows, who receive intensive communication and leadership training to help them deliver scientific information more effectively to journalists, policymakers, business leaders and the public.

"The Leopold Leadership Program recognizes rising stars in environmental science who are taking on leadership positions in their fields and within their universities," said Pam Sturner, managing director of the program. "Our program provides them with the skills and connections to make sure their research is heard and has an impact in the public arena."

The program was established to fill a gap in environmental decision making: getting the best scientific information into the hands of government, nonprofit, business and community leaders to further the development of environmentally sustainable policies and practices, she said.

The 2008 fellows come from a wide range of disciplines, including environmental engineering, marine sciences, agricultural economics and ecology. They were chosen for their outstanding qualifications as scientists, demonstrated leadership ability and strong interest in communicating science beyond traditional academic audiences.

Each fellow will participate in two weeklong training sessions that include practice media interviews and testimony at a mock congressional hearing. The fellowship also offers peer networking and mentoring through the Leadership Network of program advisers, trainers and 115 past fellows who are active in science outreach and are working to infuse scientific understanding into public and private sector discussions about the environment.

"Academic scientists work hard to understand environmental problems and to develop potential solutions, but actually solving problems requires two-way flow of information and communication between scientists and decision makers," said Pamela Matson, dean of Stanford's School of Earth Sciences and scientific director of the program. "The Leopold Leadership Program trains academics to close the gap between knowledge and action."

Following is a list of 2008 Leopold Leadership Fellows and their research:

  • Pedro Alvarez, the George R. Brown Professor and chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rice University. Research: environmental impacts of production, storage and use of nanomaterials and renewable fuels.

  • Patricia Balvanera, professor, Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas (Center for Ecosystem Research), Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico. Research: role of plant biodiversity in ecosystem services.

  • Edward Brook, associate professor, Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University. Research: climate history with emphasis on ice core records of greenhouse gases.

  • Laurie Chan, professor and BC Leadership Chair, Community Health Sciences Program, University of Northern British Columbia. Research: assessing risk to native northern peoples' traditional food sources from pollution and climate change.

  • Stephanie Chang, associate professor, School of Community and Regional Planning and Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia. Research: computer modeling of consequences of natural disasters.

    Julia Cole, associate professor, Department of Geosciences (joint appointment in Atmospheric Sciences), University of Arizona. Research: change in the El Nio/Southern Oscillation system.

  • Peter Doran, associate professor and graduate director, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois-Chicago. Research: climate change in Antarctica.

  • Martin Doyle, associate professor, Department of Geography, University of North Carolina. Research: environmental impacts of removing infrastructure from river systems.

  • Jeffrey Dukes, assistant professor, Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts-Boston. Research: invasive plant/climate change interactions and potential effects of biofuels on ecosystems.

  • Kimberly Gray, professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Northwestern University. Research: nutrient/chemical cycling in aquatic systems and development of photoactive materials for solar fuel.

  • Nick Haddad, associate professor, Department of Zoology, North Carolina State University. Research: habitat fragmentation and effectiveness of wildlife corridors.

  • Sarah Hobbie, associate professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota. Research: effects of nitrogen deposition on carbon dioxide losses from ecosystems.

  • Karen Holl, professor, Department of Environmental Studies, University of California-Santa Cruz. Research: ecosystem recovery from human disturbance.

  • Joan Kleypas, scientist II, Institute for the Study of Society and Environment, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Research: ocean acidification and the effects of climate change on coral reefs.

  • Patricia Romero Lankao, scientist and deputy director, Institute for the Study of Society and Environment, NCAR. Research: global, national and regional drivers of land and energy use in cities and associated impacts on the carbon cycle.

  • Martin Sharp, professor and chair, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department, University of Alberta. Research: glacier/climate interactions, including impacts of glacier change on sea level, regional water flows and water quality.

  • John Stachowicz, associate professor, Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California-Davis. Research: effects of declining biodiversity on stability and productivity of marine ecosystems.

  • Scott Swinton, professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University. Research: environmental management in agriculture, including cap-and-trade proposals for pesticide risks and the role of poverty in environmental degradation in Latin America.

  • Philip Townsend, associate professor, Department of Forest Ecology and Management, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Research: structure, composition and functioning of forested ecosystems subject to rapid change.


Contact: Mark Shwartz
Stanford University

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