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Jane and Whitney Harris Lecture Series

2016 Frances Beinecke, Senior Fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council
“The World We Create: Our Role in Confronting Climate Change”
Frances Beinecke is currently the McCluskey Fellow at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a Senior Fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).  She is the past president of NRDC, 2006 to 2015.

Under Ms. Beinecke’s leadership, NRDC focused on finding solutions to some of the biggest environmental challenges of our time, including establishing a clean energy future that curbs climate change, reviving the world's oceans, defending endangered wildlife and wild places, protecting our health by preventing pollution, fostering sustainable communities, and ensuring safe and sufficient water.

Prior to becoming the president in 2006, Ms. Beinecke served as the organization’s executive director for eight years.

In 2010, Ms. Beinecke was appointed by President Obama to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. She has been a member the Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board (SEAB) under both Secretary Chu and Moniz; the Advisory Board of the MIT Energy Initiative, and sits on the boards of the NRDC Action Fund, World Resources Institute (WRI), Climate Central and Client Earth.

Dr. Frances Beinecke, 2016 Jane and Whitney Harris Lecture:



2014, Dr. Lincoln P. Brower, Professor Emeritus, Sweetbriar College

“The Grand Saga of the Monarch Butterfly”

                        For almost 60 years, Professor Lincoln Brower has been investigating the biology of the monarch butterfly.  First teaching and conducting research at Amherst College, and then moved the University of Florida in Many of the widely known facts about monarchs which are presented in biology classes and nature documentaries have come out of his research on the monarch butterflies' chemical defense against predators and the ecological chemistry of the butterflies' interactions with their milkweed hostplants.  During his first expedition he also realized that the phenomenal migration and overwintering biology was threatened by logging in the winter roost areas, and he began conservation work with WWF-Mexico, government agencies in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada, and numerous other colleagues, which continues to the present day. In this lecture, copiously illustrated with photographs ranging from electron micrographs to satellite images, Professor Brower presented a first-person account of his field expeditions and lab explorations, and described the conservation issues that threaten the butterflies' unique migration and wintering biology. 

Dr. Lincoln P. Brower, 2014 Jane and Whitney Harris Lecture:



2013, Dr. Gary Langham, Vice President and Chief Scientist, National Audubon Society

“Creating an Audubon guide to future bird ranges: Implications for North American bird conservation”

Dr. Gary Langham was named Audubon’s Chief Scientist in June 2011, after four years as Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon California. At Audubon California, Dr. Langham led a team that developed a predictive GIS-based model that identifies specific habitat areas and species at risk from climate change. Audubon is now expanding this groundbreaking approach to encompass more than 500 bird species across North America, and to create a framework for innovative conservation planning. In 2003, Langham received his Ph.D. from Cornell University. He has worked as a Research Fellow and Lecturer in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at U.C. Berkeley. Gary has both broad science expertise and acute insight on how the intersection of social change and innovative technology can drive effective conservation. As Chief Scientist, Dr. Langham is instrumental in shaping and implementing Audubon’s conservation strategy.

Dr. Gary Langham, 2013 Jane and Whitney Harris Lecture:

Click here to read the most recent news from Audubon on Dr. Langham's work.

2012, Dr. Peter Kareiva, Chief Scientist, The Nature Conservancy

"Towards a new conservation: Strange bedfellows, broadening the constituency, and rejecting false metaphors"

Dr. Peter Kareiva joined The Nature Conservancy in 2002 after more than 20 years in academics and work at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, where he directed the Northwest Fisheries Science Center Conservation Biology Division. In addition to his duties as the Conservancy's chief scientist, his current projects emphasize the interplay of human land-use and biodiversity, resilience in the face of global change, and marine conservation. Peter has authored over 100 scientific articles and has written (with Dr. Michelle Marvier) a textbook: Conservation Science: Balancing the Needs of People and Nature (Roberts & Company 2010). In 2011, Peter was named a member of the National Academy of Sciences for his excellence in original scientific research. Peter received a master's of science degree in environmental biology from the University of California, Irvine, and his Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University.

2011, Dr. Mary Power

"Food webs in river networks"

Mary Power is river ecologist and Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Since 1988, she has been Faculty Director of the Angelo Coast Range Reserve, one of 36 large natural reserves in the University of California Natural Reserve System protected for university-level research and teaching, and public outreach. She is Past President of the Ecological Society of America and the American Society of Naturalists, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the California Academy of Sciences. With her students and collaborators, Mary studies food webs in temperate and tropical rivers. They investigate environmental controls on interactions of algae, aquatic invertebrates, fish, amphibians, and the birds, lizards, spiders, and bats that feed on fish or insect emergence. These webs of interactions link rivers, watersheds, and coastal marine ecosystems in surprising ways. Understanding the interactions that connect these environments should help us forecast how they will respond to changes in climate, land use, or biota.

2010, Dr. David Inouye

"What is the future of Rocky Mountain wildflowers and their pollinators?"

David Inouye is Professor of Biology at the University of Maryland, and Associate Director of the graduate program in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology. He has done field research at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, in Gothic, Colorado since 1971, where he has studied resource partitioning by bumble bees, territoriality in hummingbirds, ant-plant mutualisms, and pollination biology. Most recently he has focused on the effects of the changing climate on the phenology (timing) and abundance of flowering, in plots that he established in 1973 and visits every other day each summer; the National Science Foundation has just funded this work for another five years. Other projects include work on the population biology of individually tagged plants that he has followed since as far back as 1973, and how they are being affected by climate change and an increasing frequency of late spring frosts. David is co-author of a book (Techniques for Pollination Biologists, co-authored with Carol Kearns), enjoys photographing wildflowers and pollinators, and has been a speaker and tour leader for the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival for many summers.

2009, Dr. Gene E. Likens

"Acid Rain: An Unfinished Environmental Problem"

Dr. Gene E. Likens is the founding Director and President Emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY. His research focuses on the ecology and biogeochemistry of forest and aquatic ecosystems, primarily through long-term studies at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He was the co-founder of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study in 1963 which has shed light on critical links between ecosystem function and land-use practices. He and his colleagues were the first scientists to discover acid rain in North America and to document the link between the combustion of fossil fuels and an increase in the acidity of precipitation. His findings have influenced politicians and policy makers, guided and motivated scientific studies, and increased public awareness of human-accelerated environmental change.

In 2006, Dr. Likens was elected to be a member of the American Philosophical Society, having previously been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1981) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1979). In 2003, the Asahi Glass Foundation announced that Dr. Likens was a co-recipient of the 2003 Blue Planet Prize for outstanding scientific research that helps to solve global environmental problems. The Asahi Glass Foundation aspires for the Blue Planet Prize to be recognized as the environmental equivalent of the Nobel Prize. In 2002 he was awarded the 2001 National Medal of Science, the nation's highest science honor, for his contributions to the field of ecology. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1962.

2008, Dr. Jerry F. Franklin

"The Old-Growth Forests of the Pacific Northwest: An Overview of Advances in Scientific Understanding and Conservation Policies"

Dr. Jerry F. Franklin is the professor of ecosystem analysis at the College of Forest Resources, University of Washington in Seattle. He completed his B.S. and M.S. in forest management at Oregon State University and completed his Ph.D. in botany at Washington State University. He is director of the Wind River Canopy Crane Research Facility and a co-principal investigator of a $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to plan a National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). NEON is a continental-scale research platform for discovering and understanding the impacts of climate change, land-use change, and invasive species on ecology. He has published extensively on aspects of forest ecology, forest management and biodiversity conservation. His work has been recognized through numerous awards including the Heinz Award for the Environment and the LaRoe Award for lifetime scientific contributions to conservation biology from the Society for Conservation Biology.

2007, Dr. John N. Thompson

"Coevolution on Our Rapidly Changing Earth"

Dr. John N. Thompson Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz completed his B.A. at Washington & Jefferson College, Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, Urbana. His research, focused on how coevolution between species organizes the earth's biodiversity, aims to understand how these interactions are genetically and ecologically organized across broad geographic landscapes and how they connect biological communities. He is also Director of the STEPS Institute for Innovation in Environmental Research. This interdisciplinary group was established to facilitate environmental research and investigate human impacts on the global environment that have occurred over the past century. He has published widely on coevolution, plant-animal interactions and biodiversity conservation including his recent book: "The geographic mosaic of coevolution" (University of Chicago Press, 2006).

2006, Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner

"From Fence to Field: The Changing Role of Zoos in Conservation."

In April 2002, Jeffrey P. Bonner was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the Saint Louis Zoo. He directs one of the few free zoos in the nation, with close to 3 million visitors each year, and considered to be one of the top zoos in the world. He served as President and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens from 1993 to 2002 and before that was Vice President for Research and Special Projects at the St. Louis Science Center. Dr. Bonner received his B.A. in anthropology from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1975. He received his M.A. and M. Phil. degrees in anthropology from Columbia University in New York in 1977 and 1979, along with his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1982. He is a Burgess Fellow, Traveling Fellow, Fulbright Scholar, President's Fellow and a recipient of the National Research Service Award. Dr. Bonner is the author of numerous articles and has written a book based on his doctoral research in northern India. His latest book, "Sailing with Noah" was published in 2006. He serves on numerous national and international boards including the World Zoo Conservation Strategy, the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, and the International Center for Tropical Ecology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He was recently elected chair of the Madagascar Fauna Group and chair of the International Species Information System, and a Council member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

2004, Dr. Terese Hart

"Why conservation-and basic botany-must continue in the war torn center of Africa."

Dr. Hart first visited what was then Zaire, and now the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1974 as a Peace Corps volunteer. She returned to do her Ph.D. research on regeneration of different forest types in the Ituri region in the early 1980s. Following completion of her dissertation, she returned to the Ituri Forest with the Wildlife Conservation Society to carry out research and promote the conservation of the Okapi and its habitat. With a permanent base in the Congo, she and her husband, John, have documented long-term botanical and zoological change within this remote site.

2003, David Quammen

"Once There Were Lions"

David Quammen, author of The song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions (which won the 1997 New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism) was educated at Yale and Oxford Universities. He is a two-time National Magazine Award winner for his science essays and other work in Outside magazine and has received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Lannan Literary Award for nonfiction. He has recently published Monster of God (September 2003) and his other books include: The Flight of the Iguana, Natural Acts and Wild Thoughts from Wild Places.

2002, Dr. Martha L. Crump

"In Search of the Golden Frog: A Tropical Saga"

Dr. Martha L. Crump, adjunct professor of biology at Northern Arizona University and conservation fellow of the Wildlife Conservation Society, has studied harlequin frogs, golden toads and predaceous tadpoles in the rain forests and wetlands of Ecuador, Argentina, Costa Rica, and Brazil for over 30 years. She studied for her BA (1968), MA (1971) and Ph.D. (1974) at the University of Kansas, Lawrence and has received numerous grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society. She is currently a Board Member of Declining Amphibian Populations Task Force (DAPTF) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the Species Survival Commission. She has published numerous papers and books including: In Search of the Golden Frog (University of Chicago Press) and in 1996 was honored with the Distinguished Herpetologist Award. Dr. Crump is married with two children.

2001, Dr. Deborah Clark

"How do tropical forests work? How do they affect world climate?"

Deborah Clark has been carrying out field work in the tropics over the last 30 years, first in the Galapagos Islands for her doctoral studies, and for the last two decades as a full-time researcher at the La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica. She studies the ecology of tropical trees, long-term processes affecting tree growth and survival in lowland forests, effects of climate change on forest productivity, and implications of this for global climate and the atmosphere. For fourteen years she was co-director of the La Selva Biological Station, and she currently chairs the Graduate Education Review Committee for the Organization of Tropical Studies. She is a past President of the Association for Tropical Biology and regularly participates in international scientific programs. She is currently a Research Professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis but based full-time at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica.

2000, Dr. Christine Padoch

"People, Forests, Conservation and Development: Small Landholder Timber Management in Amazonia"

Dr. Christine Padoch is an ecological anthropologist who has worked in the forests and villages of Borneo and Amazonia. Her research has focused on how people farm and manage natural products in tropical rain forests and along the floodplains of tropical rivers. Dr. Padoch is Curator in the Institute of Economic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden.

1999, Dr. Ariel Lugo

"Active Management and the Conservation of Tropical Forests"

1998, Dr. Harry W. Greene

Dr. Greene is an herpetologist and evolutionary biologist with the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley. This event is co-sponsored by the International Center for Tropical Ecology and the St. Louis Zoo.

1997, Dr. G. David Tilman

Dr. Tilman is known for his landmark studies of the relationship between plant productivity and diversity. This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Plant Conservation at the Missouri Botanical Garden, the St. Louis Zoo, and the International Center for Tropical Ecology.

1996, Dr. Paul Alan Cox

"The Samoan Triangle: Rainforests, Flying Foxes and Indigenous Peoples"

1995, Dr. Lincoln P. Brower

"The Grand Saga of the Monarch Butterfly"

1994, Dr. Nalini Nadkarni

"Life in the Forest Canopy: Exploration of 'The Last Frontier'"

1993, Dr. George Schaller

"Giant Pandas, Wild Yaks and Tibetan Antelopes: Can they be saved?"

1992, Dr. Mark J. Plotkin

"Rainforest Conservation and the Search for New Jungle Medicines"

1991, Dr. Amy Vedder

"Mountain Gorillas: Cornerstone of Conservation"