Spring 2014 Faculty Awards

Congratulations to the following faculty for their recent awards and promotions!

marin-spiottaErika Marín-Spiotta received a 5-year, $425,000 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for Land Use and Environmental Controls on Soil Carbon in Human-Dominated Tropical LandscapesThe award was co-funded by several NSF programs across two divisions (Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Division of Earth Sciences): SBE Geography and Spatial Sciences, Geomorphology and EAR Low Temperature Geochemistry. The prestigeous NSF Early Career Award supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Marín-Spiotta’s research aims to measure legacy effects of past human activities on tropical soil carbon dynamics by taking advantage of an extraordinary natural laboratory with a rich diversity of geologic substrates, precipitation gradients, and well-documented land-use history. The project will quantify carbon storage (amount and turnover) under different land uses across environmental gradients with a long history of human management through the collection of new data and integration of archived data to increase the geographic representation of tropical soil environments. The project will evaluate the magnitude and persistence of historical land use legacy effects on soil carbon with time across different soil types using carbon isotope depth profiles and field chronosequences. Improved mechanistic understanding of the effects of soil type, climate and land use on soil organic matter retention to will be accomplished through physical fractionation approaches that investigate the sensitivity of different soil carbon pools to disturbance and the use of natural abundance radiocarbon isotopes to measure carbon storage effectiveness. The research and educational activities will provide students with training in field, lab, geospatial and data analysis skills. The integration of research and educational activities will create new opportunities for collaborations between social and physical scientists, especially through the development of a mixed-methods field course focused on environmental challenges in human-dominated tropical landscapes.

Morgan_RobertsonMorgan Robertson was awarded tenure and will be promoted to Associate Professor starting the 2014-15 academic year. Robertson specializes in the study of wetland policy and market-based environmental policy.  He has written extensively on wetland banking, ecosystem services, economic theories of value, and compensation under the Clean Water Act. He currently teaches Living in the Global Environment (Geog 139), U.S. Environment Policy and Regulation (G479), and a graduate seminar (Markets & Nature).

matt_turnerMatthew Turner was named the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in Geography. This new professorship title, sanctioned by the Dean of L&S and the Provost, recognize professors whose distinguished scholarship has advanced the confines of knowledge, and whose excellence has also included teaching or service. Matt may carry this title with him for the duration of his career here at UW-Madison. It includes $75,000 of research support for five years from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

Turner’s research in rural West Africa addresses such themes as labor scarcity, capital accumulation and overgrazing; drought, food insecurity, and gender relations; the politics of the environmental scientific knowledge; nonequilibrium ecology and common property theory; and social identities and natural resource conflict. He also holds faculty affiliations with African Studies, Development Studies, the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Jack_WilliamsJohn (Jack) Williams has been honored with a Romnes Faculty Fellowship. The Romnes award recognizes exceptional faculty members who have earned tenure within the last six years. The winners receive an unrestricted $50,000 award for research, supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). The award is named for the late H.I. Romnes, former president of the WARF Board of Trustees.

Williams works at the intersection between climate science, global change ecology, and Quaternary paleoecology. He is internationally recognized for his innovative and groundbreaking research, and is widely recognized as one of the top paleoecologists and paleoclimatologists of his generation. Much of his work uses the climate changes of the late Quaternary (the last 21,000 years) as ‘model systems’ for understanding plant species and community responses to climate change, with a particular emphasis on the temperature rises and other climate changes accompanying the last deglaciation.

Williams is also the Director of the Center for Climatic Research through the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.



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