Based at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, the Leopold Leadership Program provides outstanding academic environmental researchers with skills and approaches for communicating and working with partners in NGOs, business, government and communities to integrate science into decision-making. The program is funded by the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

This year's fellows come from 16 institutions in Canada and the United States. They will receive intensive leadership training to help them engage effectively with leaders in the public and private sectors who face complex decisions about sustainability and the environment.

“The 2015 Leopold Leadership Fellows are generating new knowledge that is critical to answering the central question of our time: how to preserve Earth’s vital systems while providing the resources that support human wellbeing, including food, water, energy, and fiber,” said Leopold Leadership Program Co-Director Pamela Matson, Dean of Stanford’s School of Earth Sciences and Senior Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “The Leopold program will help the fellows gain skills, tools, and approaches they need to contribute their knowledge most effectively to finding solutions.”

The 2015 fellows are doing innovative research in a wide range of disciplines, including ecology, marine science, engineering, geography, genomics, and Native American studies. They join a network of 195 past fellows who are engaged in broad-based efforts to solve society’s most pressing sustainability challenges.

The fellows were chosen for their outstanding qualifications as researchers, demonstrated leadership ability and strong interest in sharing their knowledge beyond traditional academic audiences. Fellows participate in a weeklong training session on leadership and communications, followed by a year of practicing skills that will advance their efforts to lead change. The fellowship also offers peer networking and mentoring through the Leopold Leadership Network of program advisers, trainers and past fellows.

“Integrating the best science into decision-making requires a long-term commitment, good collaborations among stakeholders and scientists, and true two-way engagement,” said Leopold Leadership Program Co-Director Alan Townsend, Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. “The 2015 fellows already have the desire and many of the skills to dig in for the long haul, and their participation in this program will only help them be more effective.”

The 2015 Leopold Leadership Fellows are:

Nicola Anthony, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of New Orleans. Research: Evolution and conservation of tropical and island biodiversity.

Emily Bernhardt, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Duke University. Research: Role of land use change and climate change in altering freshwater ecosystems.

Elizabeth Borer, Associate Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota. Research: Role of human activities in changing biodiversity, disease, and invasive species in the world’s ecosystems.

Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Associate Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota. Research: Origins, maintenance, and consequences of biodiversity, with a focus on plants, particularly trees, including the hundreds of oak species that inhabit the Americas.

Isabelle Côté, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University. Research: Ecological impacts of marine invasive species and how best to control them.

Jenna Davis, Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University and Higgins-Magid Senior Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Research: Strategies to increase sustainable access to water supply and sanitation, and the impact that access has on health and economic development.

W. Chris Funk, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Colorado State University. Research: Genetics of endangered wildlife.

Steven Hallam, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Genomics, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia. Research: Contributions of microbial communities to essential functions and services in natural and engineered ecosystems.

Robert Kopp, Associate Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University. Research: Past and future climate change, with a focus on characterizing uncertainty and on the interactions between physical changes and the economy.

Heather Leslie, Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University. Research: Connections between people and marine ecosystems to help guide conservation and management. 

Anna Michalak, Faculty Member, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science & Associate Professor by Courtesy, Department of Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford University. Research: Human and natural components of global budgets of greenhouse gases, as well as the impacts of climate change on coastal and inland water quality.

Julian Olden, Associate Professor, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington. Research: Science and practice of conserving freshwater ecosystems in a rapidly changing world.

Wendy Palen, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University. Research: Trade-offs between energy development and the environment, especially freshwater ecosystems, with the aim of informing conservation policy and practice.

Diane Pataki, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, University of Utah. Research: Effects of urban vegetation and landscaping on local climate, pollution, and water resources in cities.

Navin Ramankutty, Professor, Liu Institute for Global Issues and Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability, University of British Columbia. Research: Pathways for reducing environmental impact of the global food production system.

Gail Small, Assistant Professor, Department of Native American Studies, Montana State University. Research: Intersections of land and resource management, culture, and the environment within the broader context of the sovereign rights of indigenous peoples and contemporary climate change.

Jennie Stephens, Associate Professor, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont. Research: Influence of social and political factors on the transition to more renewable-based energy systems.

Maria Uriarte, Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia University. Research: Recovery of tropical forests from human activities and extreme climate events, with the goal of developing sound forest management principles. 

Enrique Vivoni, Associate Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration & School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University. Research: Water cycle in desert areas and how this resource is used by ecosystems and society.

Jason West, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Research: Air pollution and climate change; informing decisions to address these problems simultaneously.