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Bob Newman

Man in hat and sunglasses smiles at camera

If science happens, but nobody knows about it… or nobody understands it… or nobody knows how to use it, does it have an impact? As much as we want to think that science informs solutions to everything from climate adaptation to wildlife management, food systems, and public health, the critical links are always communication to a wide range of audiences and engagement with the people that might use our work. I am an ecologist on the faculty at the University of North Dakota (since 1995). I did my undergrad at Duke University (Zoology, 1981) and Ph.D. (1987) at the University of Pennsylvania in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I have focused on population ecology and genetics of amphibians that breed in ephemeral or seasonal wetlands, first in Big Bend National Park, TX, and later on the northern Great Plains in the Prairie Pothole Region in North Dakota. North Dakota is a sparsely populated (by humans) but intensively used region for industrial agriculture and energy production. Amphibians and wetlands are very sensitive to land use and climate / climate change, but to better understand how these critical drivers impact ecosystems and our ability to achieve biodiversity conservation goals, I have expanded my research to include large mammals that live and move on larger spatial scales than amphibians. In addition to teaching population biology, statistics, and climate change – related courses, I also teach an introductory environmental studies seminar. For all of our students, I emphasize the importance of knowing how to talk about your research to the public, to policy makers, and even to other scientists or scholars outside our discipline. This is a necessary ingredient of inter- or transdisciplinary work, which is imperative for environmental problem-solving. I collaborated with colleagues in the Communication department to start a Communicating Science course to help students get training in this pursuit, and also coach 3MT (three-minute thesis) competitors, and conduct workshops on effective presentations for graduate students at UND. I continue to learn, especially from my talented colleagues in the Communication and Engagement section! Lastly, after moving to North Dakota more than 25 years ago, and meeting and interacting with Indigenous students and colleagues, I have come to appreciate the value of Indigenous ways of knowing and values and the limits of Euro-centric education. I work with the TEK section to promote that insight.

C&E Section Role: Past chair (2021-2022), Chair (2020-2021), Chair-elect (2019-2020)