Ecological Society of America Announces Newly Elected Leaders

December 8, 2021
For immediate release

Contact: Alison Mize, (202) 833-8773 ext. 211, gro.asenull@nosila

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) is pleased to announce the results of its recent election for five positions on its Governing Board and two positions for its Board of Professional Certification. Those selected by the membership to serve are President-Elect for 2023-2024 Shahid Naeem, Columbia University; Vice-President for Science Diane E. Pataki, Arizona State University; Secretary Emilio M. Bruna, University of Florida; Members-at-Large Jay T. Lennon, Indiana University and Kelly S. Ramirez, University of Texas at El Paso. Two Senior Certified Ecologists elected by the membership to serve on the Board of Professional Certification are Justin A. Compton, Springfield College and Susan Sherrod, Biohabitats.

ESA’s new president-elect for 2023, Shahid Naeem, is an ecologist and conservation biologist and is a Lenfest Distinguished professor and chair in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology at Columbia University in the City of New York. Naeem is the lead editor of Biodiversity, Ecosystem Functioning and Human Well-Being and lead author of Sustainable Food Production, and has published over 100 scientific articles. His contributions to ESA include service as a former Member at Large of the Governing Board and also as a former member of the Publications Committee.

“Shahid brings to ESA a blend of curiosity and insights of discovery of the ecological world and an understanding of the critical role biodiversity plays in supporting ecosystems and humanity,” said ESA President Dennis Ojima. “These insights and passion for the ecological world will provide insightful leadership to ESA.”

Naeem received the distinction of being named an ESA Fellow and presented the ESA Buell and Mercer Awards. His background in biodiversity and his commitment to human diversity brings a comprehensive view to shaping the future of ESA.

“For over a century, ESA has been the professional society for those who study, manage, and teach others of the magnificence and significance of the living world. It’s hard to think of any organization that could be more exciting, more important and more fun to be a part of in these times of unparalleled change. I’m thrilled to have the privilege granted me by its membership to join its leadership and staff in continuing to foster scholarship, practice and diversity in the ecological, evolutionary and environmental sciences.”

Naeem earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in zoology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1990 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, the University of Copenhagen and the Imperial College of London. He served on the faculties of the University of Minnesota and the University of Washington before joining Columbia University in 2003.

ESA is also pleased to welcome four additional new governing board members for 2022-2025 that share collective responsibilities in determining the strategic direction of the Society and providing oversight. These new members include Diane E. Pataki, Vice-President for Science; Emilio M. Bruna, Secretary and Members-at-Large Jay T. Lennon and Kelly Ramirez.

Diane E. Pataki, Vice-President for Science, is a Foundation Professor and Director of the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Pataki’s ecological research has spanned the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, coupled human-natural processes related to urban CO2 emissions and the role of urban landscaping and forestry in the socioecology of cities. As both a researcher and administrator, her work has focused on supporting and advancing the societal impact of universities and research institutions through use-inspired, translational and action-oriented research and teaching. She is an ESA Fellow, as well as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and has also been a Leopold Leadership Fellow, a Fulbright Global Scholar and an advisory committee member for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation. She has served on the ESA Science Committee, Meetings Committee, Finance Committee and Publishing Products Committee, and currently chairs the Science and Governance & Leadership Committees. This is Pataki’s second term as Vice-President of Science.

Emilio M. Bruna, Secretary, is a Professor and Distinguished Teaching Scholar at the University of Florida. Bruna’s research seeks to understand tropical ecosystems and how they are altered by human activities such as deforestation and climate change. He has been a member of ESA for over 20 years, with service as a member of the editorial boards of Ecology and Ecological Monographs from 2008–2012. As the current President of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Bruna also brings to the position extensive experience with the mission, activities and administration of academic societies.

Jay T. Lennon, Member-at-Large, is a Professor in the Department of Biology at Indiana University. Lennon’s research explores the implications of diversity for the stability and functioning of ecosystems. Lennon has been a member of ESA since 2000. During this time, he has organized numerous symposia and oral sessions at ESA annual meetings. He is a member of the Aquatic Ecology Section, where he was on the Tom Frost Award Committee, and has served as the Secretary, Vice Chair and Chair of the Microbial Ecology Section and was elected as an ESA Fellow in 2021. In addition, he is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and a Distinguished Lecturer for the American Society of Microbiology.

Kelly Ramirez, Member-at-Large, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. Ramirez is a soil microbial ecologist who has worked across research and policy sectors to bring awareness of soil biodiversity to the policy level. She has served on the leadership of the Global Soil Biodiversity Institute and the Synthesis Centre for Biodiversity Sciences and worked as managing editor for the UN-Food and Agriculture Organization, where she was instrumental in the publication of the 2020 Report: State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity – Statuses, Challenges and Potentialities. Ramirez has organized Inspire sessions on microbial ecology at ESA annual meetings, put on a workshop on intersectionality in ecology and was invited to give the 2021 Recent Advances Lecture. In addition to her scientific career, Kelly is co-founder of 500 Women Scientists, a non-profit organization with the mission to make science more open, inclusive and accessible.

The Board of Professional Certification also welcomes two new members who will serve from 2022 to 2025. ESA’s certification program aims to serve the needs of ecologists who wish to establish and validate their professional credentials, to define minimum standards of education and experience for professional ecologists and to encourage all practicing ecologists to meet such standards, to create and maintain public confidence in the advice and opinions of certified ecologists and to assist the public in identifying ecologists by establishing a procedure for critical peer evaluation based upon defined minimum education, experience and ethical requirements. New members include Justin Compton and Susan K. Sherrod.

Justin Compton, ESA Board of Professional Certification, is an Associate Professor of Environmental Biology and Environmental Science program director at Springfield College. Compton’s research spans across the environmental and biological sciences, with an emphasis on collaborative teaching practices that cultivate sustainable relationships between humans and the environment. He is a Certified Senior Ecologist and has been a member of the ESA for over 18 years. In recent years, Compton created a new environmental science major at his home institution that is geared towards addressing ecological issues of the 21st century. He is committed to the advancement of science through education and application, as well as mentoring students and the next generation of ecologists.

Susan K. Sherrod, ESA Board of Professional Certification, is a Senior Certified Ecologist at Biohabitats, a company providing conservation planning, ecological restoration and regenerative design services. She is also an instructor at University of Colorado Denver in global change ecology, biodiversity & conservation, ecosystems, urban ecology and applications to landscape architecture. Sherrod has been a member of ESA since 1995, a Certified Ecologist since 2015 and a Certified Senior Ecologist since July 2020. Sherrod served as Chair of the Outreach Committee for the Society for Ecological Restoration’s Rocky Mountain Chapter, is on the Scientific Advisory Committee for Wildlands Restoration Volunteers and is on the Steering Committee for the Institute for Environmental Solutions.

“The new members of our Governing Board and Board of Professional Certification bring an impressive range of expertise that will serve ESA well as we continue to pursue initiatives that support ecologists throughout their careers,” said ESA Executive Director Catherine O’Riordan. “I look forward to working with them to further ESA’s mission.”

The current ESA Governing Board Members are President Dennis Ojima, Colorado State University, through August 2022; Immediate President-Elect Sharon Collinge, University of Colorado Boulder; Immediate Past-President Kathleen Weathers, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; Vice-President for Finance Jeannine Cavender-Bares, University of Minnesota, through August 2023; Vice President for Public Affairs Laura Petes, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, through August 2023; Vice-President for Education and Human Resources Carmen Cid, Eastern Connecticut State University, through August 2024; Vice-President for Science Diane Pataki, Arizona State University, through August 2022; Secretary Jessica Gurevitch, Stony Brook University, through August 2022; Member-at-Large Zoe Cardon, Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, through August 2022; Member-at-Large Sasha Reed, U.S. Geological Survey Southwest Biological Center, through August 2022; and Member-at-Large Jennifer Funk, University of California, Davis, through August 2022.

ESA thanks all of the candidates for their dedication to ESA’s mission and congratulates the winners of the election. ESA is grateful for its members who voted in the election and contributed their voices to the future of the Society.


The Ecological Society of America, founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at