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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

Kristie L. Ebi is director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHanGE), and Rohm and Haas Endowed Professor in Public Health Sciences at the University of Washington. She has been conducting research and practice on the health risks of climate variability and change for over twenty years, focusing on understanding sources of vulnerability, estimating current and future health risks of climate change, and designing adaptation policies and measures to reduce the risks of climate change in multi-stressor environments. She has supported multiple countries in Central America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific in assessing their vulnerabilities and implementing adaptation policies and programs. She has been an author on multiple national and international climate change assessments, including the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming
of 1.5 °C
. She has edited fours books on aspects of climate change and has more than 200 publications. She co-chairs the International Committee On New Integrated Climate change assessment Scenarios (ICONICS) that created five scenarios of socioeconomic development over this century. Dr. Ebi’s scientific training includes a B.S. in biochemistry from Michigan State University, a M.S. in toxicology from the Massachusetts Insitutue of Technology, a M.P.H. and Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Michigan, and two years of postgraduate research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

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 U.S. 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. Dr. Newell is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a member of the National Petroleum Council. Recently he served as Co-Chair for the National Academies’ Committee on Assessing Approaches to Updating the Social Cost of Carbon. He holds a B.S. and B.A. from Rutgers University, a M.P.A. from Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a Ph.D. from Harvard University

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.

Maxine L. Savitz (NAE) is a retired general manager, Technology/Partnerships at Honeywell, Inc. formerly Allied Signal. She is a member and was vice president (2006-2014) 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. 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 served 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 also served on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology visiting committee for sponsored research activities. 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 National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine. She is a member of the Division Committee on Engineering and Physical Sciences. Dr. Savitz has a B.A. in chemistry from Bryn Mawr College and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

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.

Cathy Whitlock (NAS) is a professor of earth sciences at Montana State University (MSU) and a fellow of the Montana Institute on Ecosystems. Dr. Whitlock’s research interests include Quaternary environmental change, paleoecology and paleoclimatology with a focus on vegetation, fire, and climate history. She is nationally and internationally recognized for her scholarly contributions and leadership activities in the field of past climatic and environmental change, and she has published over 190 reviewed journal articles and book chapters on this topic. Her current research sites extend from Yellowstone and the western U.S. to New Zealand, Tasmania, and Patagonia. Her research has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, Joint Fire Sciences Program, National Park Service, Department of Energy, USDA Forest Service, and U.S. Geological Survey. She is past president of the American Quaternary Association and has served on national and international advisory committees concerned with climate change. Dr. Whitlock is also the lead author of the 2017 Montana Climate Assessment. She earned her BA from Colorado College in 1975 and her Ph.D. in geological sciences from the University of Washington in 1983.

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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