U.S. Geological Survey and Colorado State University Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory senior scientist Jill Baron has been named the new director of the North American Nitrogen Center, one of five globally distributed centers of the International Nitrogen Initiative.
“I am excited by the idea of promoting the study, awareness and management of reactive nitrogen as a global change issue connected with other major global challenges,” said Baron, who began the position on Jan. 22. “Nitrogen pollution is one of the largest global changes that you’ve never heard of.”
While nitrogen fertilizer has contributed greatly to food security and human well-being worldwide, the accidental escape of nitrogen to the environment contributes to human health problems, dead zones in coastal areas like the Gulf of Mexico, loss of biodiversity, eutrophication of lakes and rivers, acid deposition, smog and global warming.
Baron is an ecosystem ecologist with the USGS, and a Senior Research Ecologist with the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University. Through her long-term research into the effects of atmospheric nitrogen deposition to mountain ecosystems, promotion of synthesis opportunities through the John Wesley Powell Center for Earth System Science Analysis and Synthesis and interest in building better connections between businesses and ecologists, Baron sees opportunities to include nitrogen management in sustainability goals at all levels of society.
The INI is a part of the Scientific Committee on Problems in the Environment, which works closely with UNESCO to provide scientific information to help solve global environmental issues. The North American Nitrogen Center’s missions are to assess how human activity has altered nitrogen flows within North America, determine the environmental, human health and economic consequences of this alteration, and help to develop solutions to reduce the problem. The center works collaboratively with other institutions and organizations to promote comprehensive analyses of problems associated with too much and too little nitrogen in various parts of the world.