By Rob Jordan

You can’t meet people’s needs without protecting the environment. That’s what Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Pam Matson says in a new installment of Generation Anthropocene, a podcast examining a new geologic era defined by dramatic human impact on the planet.

Matson is the latest in a series of Stanford environmental faculty to be interviewed for the podcast, created by Stanford doctoral students Mike Osborne and Miles Traer with Visiting Lecturer Tom Hayden, a communications expert and trainer for the Stanford Woods Institute’s Leopold Leadership Program. The series captures the expertise of the Stanford community by having students sit down for one-on-one interviews with researchers to discuss their careers, their perspectives, and their understanding of the new geological age we are entering – “The Anthropocene.”

In her interview, Matson discusses her agricultural research in Mexico’s Yaqui Valley and its relation to the Green Revolution, sustainable agriculture and how to feed the world’s growing population.

Matson is dean of Stanford’s school of earth sciences and scientific director for the Leopold Leadership Program. Her research focuses on the consequences of agricultural intensification, land use change, and nitrogen deposition for ecosystems and the atmosphere, and on sustainable development issues in developing regions. Working mostly in the tropics, she and her colleagues have identified the negative consequences of deforestation and intensive agriculture for the global and local atmosphere, freshwater, and marine systems, and are working to develop new approaches that reduce those impacts while maintaining human livelihoods and well-being. She also works on the vulnerability of food and water systems to climate change. 

Generation Antropocene has conducted interviews with several other Stanford Woods Institute fellows including Sally Benson, Rodolfo Dirzo, Bill Durham, Terry Root, Paul Ehrlich, Michael Wara and Peter Vitousek and Woods-affiliated faculty Kevin Arrigo, Doug Bird, Leonard Ortolano and Mark Zoback. Browse past Generation Anthropocene podcasts or read our recent story about how it all started.