By Terence Houston, ESA Policy Analyst
Jill Baron, an ecosystem ecologist with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and a senior research ecologist with Colorado State University’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, has been named President of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), the world’s largest organization of professional ecologists. As president, Baron now chairs ESA’s governing board, which lays out the vision for overall goals and objectives for the Society.
“Ecologists explore the organisms and processes that make up the living world, but we also evaluate the environmental and societal consequences of human activities,” said Baron. “For many of us, this knowledge drives us to seek solutions and promote better stewardship of our natural resources. As well we should: the funding that supports our work comes with the expectation that we will give back to the public that subsidizes us; this is something I, as a civil servant, am keenly aware of. The Ecological Society of America is a tremendously effective vehicle for discharging our responsibility to society. ESA’s rich portfolio of activities, from its influential journals, public affairs and communication activities, education, science office, and vibrant meetings, reflect how the Society both promotes the science and its application. It is an honor and a privilege for me to help lead these tasks.”
Baron is co-Director of the John Wesley Powell Center for Earth System Science Analysis and Syntheisis, a center founded to promote the emergence of new knowledge through interdisciplinary collaboration. Baron’s own 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. 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 Department of Interior Meritorious Service Award in 2002.
Baron was editor of ESA’s Issues in Ecology for several years and previously served as Member at Large on ESA’s governing board. Baron 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 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.