Three Colorado State University Environmental Professors — Most from Any U.S. University — Named to National Group on Environment

Three Colorado State University professors, the most from any university in the country, were chosen to be among an inaugural group of 20 environmental scientists to be trained to communicate effectively by a new, national program.

The three, the only faculty from any Colorado university who will become Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellows are Diana Wall, director of the Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory (NREL) and professor of rangeland ecosystems science; Rick Knight, professor of fisheries and wildlife biology; and Dennis Ojima, a senior research scientist in the NREL.

They will attend training sessions this year to enhance their ability to share scientific knowledge about environmental issues with the media, policy makers and the private sector. Thereafter, they will work on their own projects and will offer support to 20-member cohorts to be selected in each of the next two years. The program is affiliated with the Ecological Society of America and funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

"These scientists are both outstanding researchers and teachers, and I know they will prove effective in sharing important, current environmental knowledge so that the public, leaders and others can make informed choices," said Allen Dyer, dean of the College of Natural Resources. "The choice of three people from Colorado State indicates not only their talents but the focus, energy and commitment they and their colleagues in this and other colleges within the institution have placed on understanding and preserving our environment."

Wall, associate dean of natural resources, directs the NREL, conducts annual research on soil organisms in Antarctica, recently received a $1.8 million National Science Foundation grant to study soil microorganisms at U.S. sites and is president elect of the Ecological Society of America.

Knight, a specialist in conservation biology, has examined how human activities affect terrestrial vertebrates; his research has involved more than 40 species of as well as mammals, plants, and insects in a wide variety of ecosystems, examining everything from wildlife interaction with human constructs to the effects of back-country recreation on wild creatures.

Ojima is an ecosystems scientist specializing in ecosystem modeling. He currently heads a project that is examining the response to global changes of the Great Plains and the steppes of China and Mongolia; his goal is to understand what people need to know in order to use the land wisely and how land use can affect global warming and local climate change.

The program is named for Aldo Leopold, a pioneering environmentalist whose "A Sand County Almanac," written more than a half-century ago, remains a classic of environmental communication.