Colorado State University Scientist Jill Baron has been elected President of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), the world’s largest and leading organization of professional ecologists. Baron is an ecosystem ecologist with United States Geological Survey (USGS), a senior research ecologist with the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability – both in CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources -and a member of CSU’s Graduate Degree Program in Ecology. As ESA president, Baron will chair the governing board responsible for mapping ESA’s vision and goals.
"Ecologists have a tremendous knowledge of the environmental damage that is occurring on Earth, and we have the opportunity and responsibility to share that knowledge and seek practical tools to change the course we are on," said Baron. "It is an honor and a privilege to lead such a vibrant organization that is working to promote better, sustainable stewardship of our natural resources."
Baron will hold a three-year term as ESA president-elect (2012-13), president (2013-14) and past-president (2014-15), which includes presiding over ESA governing board meetings. The governing board advises a professional staff and legions of volunteers on the theme and vision for the annual ESA conference, publication of ESA’s renowned series of scientific journals, and many other activities. In addition to her official responsibilities, Baron is also helping ESA make a lasting impact with its Earth Stewardship initiative.
The ESA Earth Stewardship program is dedicated to creating pathways to social-ecological change that enhance ecosystem resilience and human well-being. Past ESA presidents have built collaborative partnerships with faith-based and urban communities to help achieve this goal, and Baron plans to honor that legacy while expanding Earth Stewardship collaborative partnerships with corporations.
“Corporations play an important role in society’s impact on the Earth, and they have the power to make a positive difference,” said Baron. “ESA has started dialogues to find out what the business community needs and how we as ecologists can provide them with useful tools and training to make that difference.”
Baron first came to CSU as an employee of the National Park Service’s Air and Water Quality Division to study the effects of acid rain in Rocky Mountain National Park. She earned her Ph.D. in rangeland ecology at CSU in 1991 under advisor Robert Woodmansee, and was able to expand her research beyond NPS working with USGS and NREL. Baron’s research has helped inform policy related to air-quality issues in the state of Colorado. For over three decades, she has researched the effects of atmospheric deposition and climate change on Rocky mountain lakes, forests, and soils.
“CSU has been a fantastic place to base my work from as it has a premier program for ecology research and education and my scientific colleagues here are exceptional,” Baron said.
Baron is also co-director of the John Wesley Powell Center for Earth System Science Analysis and Synthesis, a center founded to promote the emergence of new knowledge through interdisciplinary collaboration. Her work has garnered recognition from a swath of federal agencies. Most recently, she was recognized with two National Park Service awards: the 2012 Intermountain Region Regional Director’s Natural Resource Award and the 2011 Rocky Mountain National Park Stewardship Award. She was also honored with a Department of Interior Meritorious Service Award in 2002.
Baron was editor of ESA’s Issues in Ecology for several years and previously served as Secretary and Member at Large on ESA’s governing board. She was lead author of the US Climate Change Science Program report on Climate Change Adaption Options for National Parks, and a contributor to the National Climate Assessment. She has served on the Department of Interior’s Climate Change Task Force and was part of the Science Strategy Team that structured the current scientific direction of the USGS. She has authored over 140 publications and edited two books, including Rocky Mountain Futures, an ecological perspective that addresses past, present, and future human-environment interactions.
The Ecological Society of America is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and the trusted source of ecological knowledge. ESA is committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 10,000 member Society publishes five journals, convenes an annual scientific conference, and broadly shares ecological information through policy and media outreach and education initiatives. Visit the ESA website at www.esa.org.