A leading ecosystem researcher and associate dean of the College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University has been elected the new president of The Ecological Society of America.
Diana Wall will preside over more than 7,600 members in the United States and internationally. The society, considered the country’s premier professional organization of ecologists, was founded in 1915 to stimulate sound ecological research.
"The present rate of change in our environment is unprecedented in the history of the Earth," Wall said. "Ecologists provide accurate, credible scientific information to policy makers and the general public on critical management issues for the environment."
Wall, professor of rangeland ecosystem management and director of the Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State, will stress making ecological knowledge more accessible to citizens and decision-makers at all levels of government. The Society publishes its journals and bulletin online and will take other measures to enhance its educational outreach.
"Americans depend upon ecological knowledge to manage our natural resources, protect human health and to prevent small problems from becoming large, expensive problems," she said. "To solve the increasingly complex environmental problems will require that researchers integrate their knowledge from the natural, physical and social sciences."
The society’s goals are to promote, clarify and communicate the science of ecology through reports, journals, research and expert testimony to Congress and other governments. (The society encourages members to responsibly apply their research and ecological expertise to public issues through teaching and public interaction.) Members solve environmental problems such as habitat alteration and destruction, natural resource management, species extinction and loss of biological diversity, ecosystem management, ozone depletion and global climate change, sustainable ecological systems, ecological restoration and biotechnology.
Wall is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was among an inaugural group of 20 environmental scientists named Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellows in 1999. She is currently chair of the DIVERSITAS-International Biodiversity Observation Year 2001-2002, an international effort to advance biodiversity science. Wall was president of the Society of Nematologists and the American Institute of Biological Sciences and has been chair or a member of numerous scientific national and international committees and boards, including the National Research Council’s National Committee for Soil Science. She earned bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Kentucky-Lexington.
The Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory that Wall directs at Colorado State is an internationally renowned ecosystem science research center that brings together some 40 research scientists from Colorado State University and federal and state research agencies. They are joined by more than 20 postdoctoral fellows, 35 graduate students and numerous support personnel involved in integrating knowledge across many disciplines.
Ongoing research topics include biodiversity, prevention and management of invasive species, long-term observation and climate change, the role of humans in ecosystems, agroecosystems, plant-animal interactions, ecosystem modeling and ecosystem education projects.
As a soil ecologist, Wall investigates how the diversity of soil invertebrates contributes to healthy, productive soils, conducting annual research on soil organisms in Antarctica. She recently received a $1.8 million National Science Foundation grant for integrated research linking the diversity of soil invertebrates to the productivity of grassland ecosystems. She regularly presents invited lectures on topics such as the Antarctic ecosystems, the biological world underground, the benefits of integrated research to society and women in science. Her research has been widely featured in newspapers, magazines, radio and television such as the New York Times, National Geographic magazine and PBS-TV shows such as Horizons and Discovery.