Colorado State University Professor Melinda Laituri Named Jefferson Science Fellow

Colorado State University professor and researcher Melinda Laituri has been selected as a 2014 Jefferson Science Fellow. In this position, Laituri will serve as a science advisor for U.S. foreign policy to the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The Jefferson Science Fellows (JSF) program was established in 2003 to strengthen the engagement of American academic science, technology, engineering (STE) and medical communities in the formulation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy. Laituri will begin her one-year term in August 2014 and will work on water-related policy issues that include the University WASH Consortium, water data integration efforts, and gender issues related to access to water.

“STE issues are recognized as essential elements of good governance and creating effective international relationships,” said Laituri. “I am honored to have the opportunity to contribute my experience in watershed science, and natural resources research and education to important foreign policy issues facing the nation.”

Laituri is a professor of geography in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources. She has taught at CSU for 19 years, and teaches courses such as sustainable watersheds, watershed science, geographic information systems and geography of hazards. She is also a professor in an interdisciplinary natural resources immersion field course that teaches ecological field measurements at CSU’s mountain campus, Pingree Park, each summer.

“We are very proud of Dr. Laituri’s many contributions to science, policy and education and her unique ability to integrate the multiple facets of natural resource management, nationally and globally,” said Joyce Berry, Dean of CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources.

In addition to her teaching, Laituri is also director of CSU’s Geospatial Centroid, a center that promotes GIS activities, education and outreach at CSU and in Colorado. She is a scholar at CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability (SoGES), and she is the lead project investigator for the SoGES Global Challenges Research Team Headwaters Initiative.

As a Fulbright Scholar, she was at the Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Scientific Innovation at the University of Botswana. She is also a Rachel Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich where she contributes to geospatial applications in environmental history.

Laituri received her Ph.D. in geography from the University of Arizona, and her dissertation research focused on environmental equity and groundwater resources in the American Southwest and the U.S.-Mexico border. She also holds a master’s degree in hydrology from California State University and a bachelor’s in geography from University of California, Berkeley.

Laituri is the fourth CSU faculty member to receive this honor, continuing the University’s strong legacy in the JSF program. Past CSU Jefferson Science Fellows include: Marvin Paule, Department of Biochemistry (2007), Rajiv Kholsa, Department of Soil and Crop Science (2012) and Mo Salman, Department of Clinical Sciences (2013).

The Jefferson Science Fellows program is administered by the National Academies and supported through a partnership between the U.S. academic community, professional scientific societies, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It is open to tenured or similarly ranked faculty from U.S. institutions of higher learning who are U.S. citizens. Selected Jefferson Science Fellows spend one year on assignment at the U.S. Department of State or USAID as science advisors on foreign policy issues. Assignments are tailored to the needs of the hosting office, while taking into account the Fellows’ interests and areas of expertise. As part of their assignments, Jefferson Fellows also have the opportunity to travel to U.S. embassies and missions overseas. At the conclusion of the fellowship year, and upon return to their home institution, Fellows continue to serve as a resource to the State Department and USAID for five years.

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