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Dr. Dennis Ojima to host Symposium on Ecosystem Science in the Anthropocene to celebrate retirement

Ecosystem Science in the Anthropocene:  Emergent Issues and Future Perspectives Symposium Abstract

The impacts of human activities were recognized to be affecting the Earth system in the 20th Century, and this new epoch is now accepted as the Anthropocene. During the latter half of the century, ecosystem science emerged as a major approach to address the myriad global environmental challenges associated with Anthropocene.

This symposium explores the emergence of ecosystem science, its role in defining changes in our Earth system, and the paths taken to use ecosystem research findings to inform and guide decision makers at many scales of governance. This exploration is guided by a set of strategic thought leaders, who will provide their perspectives. We are honored to present Dr. Jerry Melillo to speak on the emergence of ecosystem science on the global scene; Dr. David Schimel on development of ecosystem theory and methodology to address global issues at multiple scales; Dr. Robert Corell on the involvement of ecosystem science in policy and assessment deliberations; and Dr. Kathleen Galvin on the importance of the integration of social sciences in the expansion of ecosystem research efforts.

The symposium will also include two panels. The panels will span topics associated with 1) advances in ecosystem science to address challenges of the Anthropocene; and 2) research approaches to meet the social-ecological challenges of the Anthropocene.

Symposium Program – Tuesday, Oct. 29th

1:00        Introductions and Opening Remarks

  • Moderators: Thomas Rosswall, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and Dennis Ojima, NREL

1:10        Emergence of Ecosystem Science in the Anthropocene

  • Jerry Melillo, The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole

1:40        Ecosystem Science Approaches and Applications

  • David Schimel, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

2:00        Panel Discussion: Future of Ecosystem Research

  • Panelists: Diana Wall, SOGES; Daniela Cusack, ESS

3:00        Break

3:20        Science Policy Interface

  • Robert Corell, Global Environment Technology Foundation

3:40        Social-Ecological System Perspectives

  • Kathleen Galvin, Dept. of Anthropology, NREL

4:00        Panel Discussion: Engagement Directions to Guide Ecosystem Science

  • Panelists: Patrick Keys, SOGES, and Nichole Barger, CU Boulder

4:40        Dennis Ojima: Summary Statements

Biographical Sketches of the Presenters and Panelists

Dennis OjimaDr. Dennis Ojima is a Professor, Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability; Senior Research Scientist, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University; and University Director of the North Central Climate Science Center (2011 to 2018) at Colorado State University for the Department of Interior. He co-led the effort to establish the Future Earth hub in Colorado (2013-2015). His research area involves application of social ecological system approaches to climate and land use changes on ecosystems, carbon accounting, food security, and adaptation and mitigation strategies to climate change. These research efforts have led extensive international work in Senegal, Ethiopia, China, Mongolia, and Central Asia training researchers and managers in topics related to carbon sequestration, adaptation technologies, and modeling land use and climate change impacts on ecosystem dynamics. His research currently focuses on the climate impacts and response strategies of semiarid ecosystems in the northcentral region US and in Mongolia. His recent assessment efforts have included co-leading the Great Plains Assessment report for the third US National Climate Assessment (Shafer et al 2014, Ojima et al 2015), Colorado Climate Vulnerability Report (2015; Gordon and Ojima, editors).  He was recently selected to a Global Land Project Fellow. He has received recognition for his contributions to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005 Zayed International Prize for the Environment), the 2007 Noble Peace Prize for efforts associated with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and in 2011 he was a member of a working group honored by the US Department of Interior for their contribution to the “Scanning the Conservation Horizon: A Guide to Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment”. In 2013, he was honored as a Champion of the Environment by the Mongolian Minister of the Environment and Green Development.

Ojima received his BA in Botany from Pomona College (1975); Master’s Degree (1978) in the Botany Department at University of Florida, and his PhD (1987) from the Rangeland Ecosystem Science Department at Colorado State University.

Thomas RosswallThomas Rosswall is former Executive Director of the International Council for Science (ICSU). He has been Rector of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and is professor emeritus of water in environment and society at SLU. His research has focused on microbial regulation of nitrogen and carbon cycling from the micro- to the global scale. He has played an important role in the development of global change research as Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP).He was the inaugural Director of START, the capacity building component of the global change research programmes. Thomas Rosswall was Chair of the Independent Science Panel for the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) 2009-2014 and Chair of the Board of Mistra Urban Futures (2014-2017). His memberships include: Academia Europaea; Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry; and The World Academy of Arts and Science. He is currently Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Thomas Rosswall got his MSc in microbiology at the University of Uppsala and was appointed Associate Professor of Soil Ecology and Professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.

Jerry Melillo is a Distinguished Scientist and Director Emeritus at The Jerry MelilloEcosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and a Professor of Biology at Brown University. Melillo is an ecologist recognized for his work on the impacts of human activities on the biosphere. He is known for his studies of how changes in climate, in the chemistry of the atmosphere and precipitation, and in land use affect the biogeochemistry of terrestrial ecological systems from local to global scales. He has been deeply involved with national and international efforts to advance science and assessment related to global ecology and climate change. Melillo was born in Bluefield, West Virginia, and grew up in Westport, Connecticut. He graduated from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut with a degree in Biology and from Yale University with a degree in Ecosystems Ecology in 1977. He joined the staff of The Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory in 1976. In 1996 and 1997, Melillo served as the Associate Director for Environment in the US President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). He has been President of the Ecological Society of America and of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), an international environmental assessment body headquartered in Paris. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Ecological Society of America. He is an honorary Professor in the Institute of Geophysical Sciences and Natural Resources Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

David SchimelDr. David Schimel is a Research Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab as well as Chief Science Officer and Principal Investigator for the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). His career has focused on the large-scale relationships of land management and climate change on ecosystem processes and includes expertise in managing large, complex research projects, remote sensing, data management, modeling, and the application of ecological research to science policy development. Dave served as CEO of NEON from 2006 to 2011, overseeing NEON’s design and development phase to successful completion. He also served as a Senior Terrestrial Scientist in NCAR’s Climate and Global Dynamics Division for 16 years, and was Founding Co-Director of the Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry. Dave is one of the recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in 2007 on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, and has authored more than 150 papers on biogeochemistry, climate impacts on ecosystems, and the global carbon cycle. Hi is Editor in Chief of Ecological Applications for the Ecological Society of America. Dave earned a BA from Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts (1977), and a PhD from Colorado State University (1982).

Dr. Daniela Cusack is Assistant Professor, Dept. of Ecosystem Science & Daniela CusackSustainability at Colorado State University, and a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Her research program examines effects of global change and human modification on ecosystem ecology across spatial scales, using methods from biogeochemistry and biogeography. Her current research explores how tropical terrestrial ecosystems respond to drying, warming, nitrogen deposition, land use change, and invasive plant species, with an emphasis on belowground root-microbial-soil dynamics. She received her PhD from UC-Berkeley (2009), MS from Yale University (2003), and a BA from Wesleyan University (1999).

Diana WallDr. Diana Wall is an ecologist and environmental scientist recognized for her work on soil biodiversity and climate change. Her research has emphasized how life in soil, from microbes to invertebrates, contributes to ecosystem services. She is internationally renowned for her studies on the dynamics, functioning and survival of nematodes in soils of the Antarctic dry valleys. Her collaborative nature and pioneering global scale studies of soil biodiversity are hallmarks of her career. She has been president of the Society of Nematologists, the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the Ecological Society of America and is the science chair of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative. She received the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. She earned her PhD at the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Robert W. Corell is a Member of the Borad of Directors and a Principal Robert Correllat the Global Environment Technology Foundation and Leads of its Center for Energy and Climate Solution. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Miami’s Department of Ocean Sciences, Professor, University of the Arctic and Professor II, UArctic’s Institute of Circumpolar Reindeer Husbandry, Norway.

He is a Senior Fellow at the the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. He was the Co-Chair of the 2016 UNEP’s GEO-6 North American Regional Assessment. He was recognized with other scientists for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments. In 2019, he was elected a member by the Norwegian Scientific Academy for Polar Research. A circular mountain region forming the head of a glacier in Antarctica was named in 2003 the “Corell Cirque” by the Board on Geographical Names (79°54′00″S, 155°57′00″E). In 2019, he was awarded the High North Hero Award 2019 by High North Center for Business and Governance of Norway. Dr. Corell is actively engaged in research concerned with the sciences of global change and the interface between science and public policy, particularly research activities that are focused on the science of global and regional climate change. This effort is designed to facilitate understanding of vulnerability and sustainable development.

Dr. Corell was Assistant Director for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation (1987-2000) where he had direct responsibility for the NSF’s Atmospheric, Earth, Ocean Sciences, Polar Programs and was Chair of the United States Global Change Research Program (1987-2000) reporting to the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.  Dr. Corell received Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. degrees at Case Western Reserve University and MIT.

Kathleen GalvinDr. Kathleen Galvin is Professor of Anthropology and Director of The Africa Center at Colorado State University. She has conducted interdisciplinary social-ecological systems research in the savannas of east Africa for over 30 years. Galvin has worked with local communities on issues of land use change, conservation, climate variability, diet and nutrition of Africa pastoralists and, resilience and adaptation strategies throughout the world’s drylands. She uses frameworks from political ecology and social-ecological systems and, uses simulation modeling and geospatial tools to understand human-environment issues and interactions. Her current research focuses on understanding the trade-offs of community-based conservation for people and the environment throughout the African continent. She is also working on grant to assess household decisions, ecosystem change and atmospheric water recycling in east Africa.

Professor Galvin is coauthor of the American Anthropological Association Task Force Report on Global Climate Change.  She is a lead author on the 2019 global assessment UN Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). She is the 2017 Award Recipient, College of Liberal Arts, John N. Stern Distinguished Professor Award and the 2017 Award for Resident Distinguished Ecologist, Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at CSU. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York, 1985 M.A. in Anthropology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, 1979 B.A. in Anthropology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, 1971.

Dr. Nichole Barger, an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology Nichole Bargerand Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, has worked as an ecologist to support sustainable land management and restoration of a broad variety of ecosystems throughout the world. In her research program, Nichole works in partnership with federal resource managers on land degradation and restoration issues such as the ecological risks of fire mitigation treatments, historical drivers and biogeochemical responses to regional vegetation change, forest decline and regeneration, and more recently restoration of degraded dryland ecosystems. Nichole is the Research Director of the Canyonlands Research Center in Southeast Utah which is now located within the newly formed Bears Ears National Monument. Nichole is also actively involved in international science policy. She served as coordinating lead author on the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service (IPBES) Global Land Degradation and Restoration assessment. Nichole is now serving a four-year term on the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Science Policy Interface group.

She received her Ph.D. (2003) in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at Colorado State University;   M.S. (1998) in The Graduate Group in Range Science, Department of Environmental Science Policy and Management at the University of California, Berkeley; and B.A. (1995) at The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA.

Patrick KeysDr. Pat Keys is a Research Scientist for SoGES. His research is focused on a broad range of global sustainability challenges, including climate change impacts, cross-scale risks, and social-ecological tele-connections. His doctoral work sought to understand the dynamics between sources and sinks of atmospheric moisture, particularly how socially-driven changes in evaporation could be related to downwind, terrestrial precipitation. He has also worked on other topics ranging from the role of science fiction in developing more realistic scenarios for the future of Earth’s oceans, to the importance of recognizing the Anthropocene as a new baseline for global risk analysis.

Prior to joining SoGES, Pat founded an environmental consultancy that worked with local and international partners. In collaboration with different partners, he explored food security in the UAE, the link between drought and conflict in sub-Saharan Africa, and climate change adaptation and mitigation in Fort Collins. He has also conducted fieldwork in Alaska (fish biology), Wyoming (burrowing owl behavioral ecology), American Samoa (indigenous perspectives on conservation), Morocco (agricultural water policy), Suriname (small-scale water supply), and Vietnam (climate change impacts).

Pat has a PhD in Sustainability Science from Stockholm University, an MSc focused on Water Resources from University of Washington, and a BA in Biology from Willamette University.