William H. Schlesinger

2007 Michel T. Halbouty
Distinguished Lecturer

William H. Schlesinger

Special Lecture Presentation:

Human Impact on Global Biogeochemical Cycles

Tue., 30 Oct., 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Colorado Convention Center, Room 704/706

About William H. Schlesinger

On 1 June 2007, William H. Schlesinger was named President of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, a private ecological research institute on the grounds of the Cary Arboretum in Millbrook, NY. He assumed this position after 27 years on the faculty of Duke University. Completing his A.B. at Dartmouth (1972), and Ph.D. at Cornell (1976), he moved to Duke in 1980, where he retired in spring 2007 as Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences and as James B. Duke Professor of Biogeochemistry.

He is the author or coauthor of over 180 scientific papers on subjects of environmental chemistry and global change and the widely-adopted textbook Biogeochemistry: An analysis of global change (Academic Press, 2nd ed. 1997). He was among the first to quantify the amount of carbon held in soil organic matter globally, providing subsequent estimates of the role of soils and human impacts on forests and soils in global climate change. With interests in limnology, he provided one of the first estimates of the transport of organic carbon in the world's rivers, and field studies of the overland transport of nitrogen from desert ecosystems undergoing desertification.

He was elected a member of The National Academy of Sciences in 2003, and was President of the Ecological Society of America for 2003-2004. He is also a fellow in the American Geophysical Union and the Soil Science Society of America.

His past work has taken him to diverse habitats, ranging from Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia to the Mojave Desert of California, and three times as a Duke alumni tour guide to Antarctica. His research has been featured on NOVA, CNN, NPR, and on the pages of Discover, National Geographic, The New York Times, and Scientific American. Schlesinger has testified before U.S. House and Senate Committees on a variety of environmental issues, including preservation of desert habitats, global climate change and carbon sequestration.

Schlesinger currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (New York) and the Southern Environmental Law Center (Charlottesville) and on the Board of Scientific Advisors for Terrapass LLC (San Francisco). He is also a member of the selection advisory committee for the St. Andrews Prize for Environment, sponsored by Conoco-Phillips.

He and his wife, Lisa, live in Millbrook, where they enjoy birdwatching, gourmet cooking, and collecting southwestern art.


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