Leadership Stories

May 27, 2020
Like time and money, water in the West is often characterized by too much demand chasing too little supply. In response to such scarcity, water conservation seems the obvious, environmentally-friendly strategy to achieve the same outcome-a green lawn, food and fiber, or a hot shower-while using less water. Give water users the means to use less, and with any luck, they actually will. But such freedom can also inadvertently lead to more water use, whether that's via lush landscaping, more crops on marginal lands, or longer showers. How do we balance supply with demand to solve this problem?Read more >
May 27, 2020
Much of the opposition to genetically engineered organisms has emerged from within the environmental movement, but what happens when a new biotechnology has an explicit goal of environmental conservation? An international consortium is investigating the potential deployment of an engineered mouse on islands where invasive mice threaten biodiversity. Theoretically, the mouse would "drive" the population to be all male, crashing the mouse population and leading to eradication without the use of environmentally-risky toxicants. But even testing such a technology, known as a "gene drive," has ecological risks. How do we decide how to proceed in a way that minimizes risk?Read more >
May 27, 2020
Universities, cities, and now even some countries are starting to phase out single-use plastics, but what will they switch to? Tons of disposable foodware, including products made from agricultural waste and labeled compostable, are used and discarded every day. Some of the products contain chemicals that are associated with adverse health effects such as hormone disruption, increased cholesterol levels, and increased risk of cancer. Ideally, we should phase out single-use plastics and encourage the development of alternatives that are manufactured with and contain inherently safer chemicals. How do we incentivize a transition to the best reusable products?Read more >
May 27, 2020
A century ago, we tried desperately to wipe out mountain lions in North America, and failed. Then American culture changed. In the mid-20th century, we offered mountain lions limited protection in the form of managed hunting. As a consequence, mountain lion populations rebounded far more successfully than anyone would have predicted, and probably more than many would have liked. Today, mountain lions are as abundant as they ever were in the West, and people are faced with a new reality. Can we peacefully coexist with such a successful predator?Read more >
Apr 21, 2020
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) won a prestigious national award March 5 for its influential role in the nation’s fight against climate change, receiving recognition for the Department’s outreach on climate resilience and for taking a comprehensive approach that aligns state and local water...Read more >
Jan 15, 2020
Fellow Cassandra Brooks returned in December 2019 from a three-week Antarctic expedition organized by Homeward Bound Project, a worldwide initiative that began in 2016 to “heighten the influence and impact of women in making decisions that shape our planet,” according to the organization.Read more >
Nov 7, 2019
Plenty of Atlantans spend time on highways, speeding or inching or swerving along. But many people spend a lot of time near the highways, too: at their homes, schools or workplaces. And that’s not great for their health. So Fellow Christina Fuller, a Georgia State University public health professor, is studying how effectively trees can help filter out some of that pollution.Read more >
Oct 29, 2019
Some climate-related projects start local and stay local – but in other cases, there may be an opportunity to expand the initiative to broader scales. Over the course of just four years, Fellow Amber Pairis brought together more than 280 organizations, agencies, and groups of people keen to address climate change adaptation.Read more >
Oct 17, 2019
Dr. Katalyn (Kate) Voss, who grew up as an active member of the Surfrider Foundation in southern California, has always been interested in grass-roots organization and advocacy around environmental issues. Now as an AGU Congressional Sciece Fellow, Voss is excited to have arrived at the nexus of science, society and politics. “Maybe this is the geographer in me coming out,” says Voss, “since we’re trained to think across scales of space and time, I see this coming year working on the Hill as a perfect convergence of all these different spatial scales of policy and science.”Read more >
Sep 30, 2019
For the Yurok tribe, fishing isn’t a recreational weekend activity to be paired with a cold beer. It’s a way of subsistence, a way of life. Fellow Keith Parker’s groundbreaking biology research regarding a new subspecies of Pacific lamprey, recently published in the science journal Molecular Ecology, may be the key to saving his tribe’s way of life.Read more >

Spotlight on Leadership

At the end of October, a room full of politicians, biologists, and conservationists in Australia erupted in applause. After five years of negotiations, 24 countries and the European Union unanimously agreed to create a marine protected area (MPA) in Antarctica’s Ross Sea, which is considered the most pristine marine ecosystem in the world. Fellow Cassandra Brooks has worked in the region on this project for years, but says the agreement comes with some important caveats.Read more >

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