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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Environmental Change and Society
Board on Environmental Change and Society
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Members' Biographical Sketches


Richard Moss (Chair) is senior research scientist with the Joint Global Change Research Institute at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory/University of Maryland, visiting senior research scientist at the Earth Systems Science Interdisciplinary Center, and senior fellow with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). He has served as director of the Office of the US Global Change Research Program/Climate Change Science Program (2000-06), vice president and managing director for Climate Change at WWF (2007-09), and senior director of the U.N. Foundation Energy and Climate Program (2006-2007). He also directed the Technical Support Unit of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) impacts, adaptation, and mitigation working group (1993-1999) and served on the faculty of Princeton University (1989-91). He was a coordinating lead author of Confronting Climate Change and Realizing the Potential of Energy Efficiency, led preparation of the U.S. government’s 10-year climate change research plan, and has been a lead author and editor of a number of IPCC Assessments, Special Reports, and Technical Papers. Moss remains active in the IPCC and currently co-chairs the IPCC Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis. He serves on the U.S. National Academy of Science’s standing committee on the “human dimensions” of global environmental change and the editorial board of Climatic Change. He was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2006, a Distinguished Associate of the U.S. Department of Energy in 2004, and a fellow of the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program in 2001. Moss’ research interests include development and use of scenarios, characterization and communication of uncertainty, and quantitative indicators of adaptive capacity and vulnerability to climate change. He received an M.P.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University (public and international affairs) and his B.A. from Carleton College in Northfield, MN.

Joseph Arvai is the Max McGraw Professor of Sustainable Enterprise in the School of Natural Resources & Environment, and the Ross School of Business, at the University of Michigan. He is also the Director of the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan. In addition to his position at the U of M, Joe is a Senior Researcher at the Decision Science Research Institute in Eugene, OR, and he is an Adjunct Professor in Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. Joe is an internationally recognized expert in the risk and decisions sciences; his research has two main areas of emphasis: First, his research is focused on advancing our understanding of how people process information and make decisions, with a specific emphasis on how people make tradeoffs. Second, Joe and his research group conduct research focused on developing and testing decision-aiding tools and approaches that can be used by people to improve decision quality across a wide range of environmental, social, and economic contexts. Joe’s research is applied, and accounts for decision-making by a broad spectrum of public and stakeholder groups, as well as by technical experts, business leaders, and policy makers. His work also focuses on choices made by people individually, and when working in groups. Likewise, he conducts his research across a wide range of contexts, ranging from environmental risk management to consumer choice and policy-making.

F. Stuart Chapin III (NAS) is a professor of ecology at the Department of Biology and Wildlife of the Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska. In August 2010, he became president of the Ecological Society of America (ESA). Chapin also serves as principal investigator of the Bonanza Creek Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program, and has a background in plant physiological ecology and ecosystem ecology. His current research interests focus on the resilience of social-ecological systems. As director of the graduate educational program in Resilience and Adaptation at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Chapin studies human-fire interactions in the boreal forest. As President of ESA, he plans to address the “critical issue” of planetary stewardship. With Mary Power and Steward Pickett, Chapin is leading a Planetary Stewardship initiative “whose goal is to reorient society toward a more sustainable relationship with the biosphere.” He received his B.A. in biology from Swarthmore College in 1966, and his Ph.D. in biological sciences from Stanford University in 1973.

Ruth S. DeFries is a professor at Columbia University. She is an environmental geographer who specializes in the use of remote sensing to study Earth’s habitability under the influence of human activities, such as deforestation, that influence regulating biophysical and biogeochemical processes. Her research investigates the relationships between human activities, the land surface, and the biophysical and biogeochemical processes that regulate the Earth's habitability. Dr. DeFries is interested in using remotely sensed data to observe land cover and land use change at regional and global scales, and in exploring the implications of those changes for such ecological services as climate regulation, the carbon cycle, and biodiversity. She and her collaborators have developed a more precise approach to mapping land cover, which has significantly enhanced researchers’ ability to make more plausible projections. Previously, she worked at the National Research Council with the Committee on Global Change and taught at the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay. She is a fellow of the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program and received a MacArthur “Genius Award” in 2007. Dr. DeFries is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and her B.S. in earth science from Washington University.

Hallie C. Eakin is an associate professor in Sustainability Science with the School of Sustainability, Arizona State University. Her research focuses on the adaptability, resilience and sustainability of households in face of global environmental and socioeconomic change. Her research has largely focused on the livelihoods of rural smallholders in Latin America and on food system sustainability and resilience. Recently, Dr. Eakin has investigated processes of change and vulnerabilities in the Mexican maize system, and the adaptive capacity of Mesoamerican coffee farmers. Currently she is coordinating an international initiative exploring the sustainability and resilience implications of adaptation to social-hydrological risk in Mexico City. Dr. Eakin has consulted with the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency on projects in agricultural development, the use of seasonal forecasting in drought risk mitigation, and adaptation to anticipated climate-change impacts on urban water availability. She earned a B.A. in environmental studies from Brown University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in geography and regional development from the University of Arizona.

Lori M. Hunter is professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder and also director of the Population Program and the CU Population Center in CU Boulder’s Institute of Behavioral Science. Hunter’s expertise is on human-environment interactions, with specific examination of migration as an adaptation to environmental change. Her focus is on households in rural areas of developing countries, particularly in regions with natural resource-based livelihoods. Hunter has also examined the use of natural resources as a coping strategy among AIDS-impacted households in rural South Africa. She is currently Chair of a Special Emphasis Panel on Migration-Climate-Health connections, supported by NIH and the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP). Her research and related activities have been supported by NIH, NSF, EPA, USDA and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. She is past Editor-in-Chief of the journal Population & Environment and past Chair of the International Steering Committee of the Population-Environment Research Network. She earned her M.A. (1993) and Ph.D. (1997) at Brown University both in the Department of Sociology.

Katharine Jacobs is director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions (CCASS) and professor in the department of soil, water and environmental science at the University of Arizona. From 2010 to 2013, Jacobs served as an assistant director in the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President. Jacobs was the director of the 2014 National Climate Assessment, and also was the lead advisor on water science, policy and climate adaptation within OSTP. Prior to her work in the White House, Jacobs was the executive director of the Arizona Water Institute from 2006-2009, leading a consortium of three state universities focused on water-related research, education and technology transfer in support of water supply sustainability. She has more than 20 years of experience as a water manager for the Arizona's Department of Water Resources, including 14 years as director of the Tucson Active Management Area. Her research interests include water policy, connecting science and decision making, stakeholder engagement, climate information for water management applications, climate change adaptation, and drought planning. She has served on nine National Research Council panels. Jacobs earned her M.L.A. in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Michael Anthony Mendez is a faculty fellow and associate research scientist at Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. As the inaugural James & Mary Pinchot Faculty Fellow in Sustainability Studies, he teaches graduate courses on environmental policy and social equity. Dr. Mendez investigates through the fields of urban planning, public health, and Science & Technology Studies (STS) how the built environment, policymaking process, and social movements influence sustainability and population health in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. Dr. Mendez has more than a decade of senior-level experience in the public and private sectors which includes working for the California State Legislature as a senior consultant to the Assembly Select Committee on Environmental Justice, lobbyist, vice chair of Sacramento’s Planning Commission, and as the legislative director of agricultural/natural resources and academic/biomedical research for the University of California, Office of the President (UCOP). In these positions, he conducted applied research and actively engaged in the policymaking process. Since 2013, he has been an affiliated scholar with the Center for Regional Change at the University of California, Davis and the UC Berkeley Center for Global Healthy Cities. Most recently, he was appointed to the State Mining and Geology Board (SMGB) for an Environmental Protection/Ecosystems board position. He has a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley's Department of City and Regional Planning, with a designated emphasis in Science & Technology Studies (STS) and a graduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Richard G. Newell is the President and CEO of Resources for the Future (RFF), an independent nonprofit that improves environmental, energy, and natural resource decisionmaking through rigorous economic research and analysis. He has held senior government appointments as the administrator of the US Energy Information Administration and as the senior economist for energy and environment on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. Dr. Newell is an adjunct professor at Duke University, where he was previously the Gendell Professor of Energy and Environmental Economics and Founding Director of its Energy Initiative. He has published widely on the economics of markets and policies for energy and the environment, including issues surrounding global climate change, energy efficiency, and energy innovation. He is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a member of the National Petroleum Council, advisory boards of the National Academy of Sciences, and several other institutions. Dr. Newell holds a PhD from Harvard University and an MPA from Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Mary D. Nichols is chair of the California Air Resources Board, a post she has held since 2007. She also served as chair of the Air Resources Board from 1979-1983. Nichols has devoted her entire career in public and nonprofit service to improving the environment and public health. In addition to her work at the Air Resources Board, she has served as Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Air and Radiation program under President Clinton, Secretary for California's Resources Agency from 1999 to 2003 and director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her priorities as Chair include moving ahead on the state's landmark climate change program (AB 32), steering the Board through numerous efforts to curb diesel pollution at ports and continuing to pass regulations aimed at providing cleaner air for Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. She values innovation, partnerships and common-sense approaches to addressing the state's air issues. She earned her B.A. from Cornell University and her J.D. from Yale University School of Law.

Jonathan Overpeck is a founding co-director of the Institute of the Environment, as well as a professor of geosciences and a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona. Dr. Overpeck has published over 130 papers in climate and the environmental sciences, and recently served as a coordinating lead author for the Nobel Prize winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment (2007). He has also been awarded the U.S. Department of Commerce Bronze and Gold Medals, as well as the Walter Orr Roberts award of the American Meteorological Society, for his interdisciplinary research. Overpeck has also been a Guggenheim Fellow, was the 2005 American Geophysical Union Bjerknes Lecturer, and won, with co-authors, the 2008 NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Outstanding Scientific Paper Award. Peck is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. Before coming to The University of Arizona, Peck was the founding director of the NOAA Paleoclimatology Program and also the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology, both in Boulder, Colorado. While in Boulder, he was also a fellow at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado. He received his B.A. from Hamilton College, followed by a M.Sc. and Ph.D. from Brown University.

Aseem Prakash is professor of political science, the Walker Family Professor for the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Founding Director of the Center for Environmental Politics at University of Washington, Seattle. He studies environmental policy, climate governance, NGOs and nonprofits, and voluntary/private regulation. Dr. Prakash is the General Editor of Cambridge University Press Series in Business and Public Policy, the Co-Editor of Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, and the Associate Editor of Business & Society. In addition to his scholarly publications, he regularly contributes to public scholarship via platforms such as The Conversation, Slate, Washington Post’s Monkey Cage, and open democracy. Dr. Prakash was elected to the position of Vice President of the International Studies Association for the period, 2015-2016. He serves on the Economic Development Commission of the city of his residence: Edmonds, Washington. He earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University.

J. Timmons Roberts is Ittleson Professor of Environmental Studies and Sociology at Brown University, where he was Director of the Center for Environmental Studies from 2009 to 2012. During 2012-13 he is Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. He taught at the College of William and Mary and directed its Program in Environmental Science and Policy from 2001 to 2009, and before that he held a joint appointment in Latin American Studies and Sociology and co-directed the Environmental Studies program at Tulane University from 1991 to 2001. Timmons was a James Martin 21st Century Professor at Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute in 2006-2007, and a Research Fellow at William and Mary's Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations in 2008-2009. Co-author and editor of eight books and edited volumes, and of over sixty articles and book chapters, Timmons' current research focuses on climate change and international development, with a core focus is on how equity affects our ability to address this complex global problem. His 1992 Ph.D. was from Johns Hopkins University in Sociology's Program in Comparative International Development. His B.A. was in Biology (with research in tropical and temperate ecology) from Kenyon College.

Maxine L. Savitz (NAE) is a retired general manager, Technology/Partnerships at Honeywell, Inc. formerly Allied Signal. She is also member and current vice president of the National Academy of Engineering. Dr. Savitz was employed at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its predecessor agencies (1974-1983) and served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Conservation. Dr. Savitz serves on the board of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, and on advisory bodies for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She serves on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology visiting committee for sponsored research activities. In 2009, Dr. Savitz was appointed to the President’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology. Past board memberships include the National Science Board, Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, Defense Science Board, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRU), Draper Laboratories, and the Energy Foundation. Dr. Savitz’s awards and honors include: the Orton Memorial Lecturer Award (American Ceramic Society) in 1998; the DOE Outstanding Service Medal in1981; the President’s Meritorious Rank Award in 1980; recognition by the Engineering News Record for Contribution to the Construction Industry in 1979 and 1975; and the MERDC Commander Award for Scientific Excellence in 1967. She is the author of about 20 publications. Dr. Savitz has served on numerous National Research Council committees and participated in multiple NAS activities. She is a member of the Division Committee on Engineering and Physical Sciences.

Michael P. Vandenbergh is a leading scholar in environmental and energy law whose research explores the relationship between formal legal regulation and informal social regulation of individual and corporate behavior. His work with Vanderbilt’s Climate Change Research Network involves interdisciplinary teams that focus on the reduction of carbon emissions from the individual and household sector. His corporate work explores private environmental governance and the influence of social norms on firm behavior and the ways in which private contracting can enhance or undermine public governance. Before joining Vanderbilt’s law faculty, Professor Vandenbergh was a partner at a national law firm in Washington, D.C. He served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1993 to 1995. He began his career as a law clerk for Judge Edward R. Becker of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 1987-88. In addition to directing Vanderbilt’s Climate Change Research Network, Professor Vandenbergh serves as co-director of the law school’s Energy, Environment and Land Use Program. He was named a David Daniels Allen Distinguished Professor of Law in fall 2013. A recipient of the Hall-Hartman Teaching Award, he teaches courses in environmental law, energy, and property. Professor Vandenbergh has been a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School and at Harvard Law School. He earned his J.D. at the University of Virginia School of Law.

Jalonne White-Newsome is senior program officer at The Kresge Foundation, responsible for the Environment Program’s grant portfolio on Climate Resilient & Equitable Water Systems (CREWS). She also leads the foundation’s work addressing the intersection of climate change and public health. Before joining Kresge in early 2016, she served as director of federal policy at West Harlem Environmental Action Inc., where she was involved with leading national campaigns and a 42-member national coalition of environmental justice organizations. Her work helped ensure that the concerns of low-income communities of color were integrated into federal policy, particularly on clean air, climate change and health issues. Dr. White-Newsome is an adjunct professor at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and continues to engage in research on climate, health and equity. She serves on the board of US Climate Action Network, and is a steering committee member of the Health Environmental Funder’s Network. She is a 2017 PLACES Fellow with The Funders Network. A native of Detroit, she earned a Ph.D. in environmental health sciences from the University of Michigan School of Public Health; a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Southern Methodist University; and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern University.

Robyn S. Wilson is an associate professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University. She is a behavioral decision scientist, focusing primarily on the individual decision making process under risk and uncertainty. Specifically, she studies the interplay between intuitive and analytic information processing and the influence this has on risk perception and ultimately individual preferences or choices. Dr. Wilson is also interested in the development of strategic communication efforts aimed at correcting for deficiencies in information processing, as well as the use of decision support tools that assist individuals in making more informed and value-consistent choices. She pursues these interests across multiple land and resource management contexts (e.g., forests, wildlife, water), multiple hazards (e.g., wildfire, agricultural runoff, climate change), and types of decision makers (e.g., laypeople and experts). Dr. Wilson is the behavioral sciences faculty leader for the Sustainable and Resilient Economy program at Ohio State where she focuses on integrating behavioral mechanisms into integrated assessments of the sustainability of policies and technologies. She is also a council member for the Society for Risk Analysis, and a member of the International Joint Commission's Water Quality Board. She received her B.A. in environmental studies from Denison University and M.S./Ph.D. in natural resource management from The Ohio State University.


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