UW-Madison researcher chosen to lead Ecological Society of America

October 19, 2015 By Kelly April Tyrrell

Monica Turner has made a career of studying ecosystem resilience in the face of ecological challenges, from severe forest fires and bark beetle outbreaks in Greater Yellowstone and the northern Rockies to climate and land use change in Wisconsin.

Now, she has been named to a one-year term as president of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), in its centennial year.

Photo: Monica Turner

Monica Turner

“It is a tremendous honor to serve as president of the Ecological Society of America, my primary professional society,” says Turner, who has been a member since her days in graduate school. “Ecologists also face challenges, including heightened need to communicate ecology to diverse audiences and to provide policymakers with sound ecological science to use as the basis for decision making. I look forward to working with the ESA staff, governing board and membership to support ecology and ecologists in the years ahead.”

Turner is the Eugene P. Odum Professor of Ecology and Vilas Research Professor of Zoology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, as well as a member of the National Academy of Sciences and an ESA fellow. She has studied the dynamics of ecosystems, from how they respond to disturbances and climate change to how animals move throughout them. She is well known in her field for her long-term studies of the recovery of Yellowstone National Park following large fires that burned there in 1988, and for her work to understand forest ecosystem resilience following fire and widespread insect damage.

Turner’s research has laid the groundwork for a deeper understanding of how major disturbances shape ecosystems both in time and space. In Wisconsin, as a member of the UW–Madison Water Sustainability and Climate Project in the Department of Agronomy and the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research site in the Center for Limnology, she studies land-water interactions and the impacts of climate change. In Wisconsin and in the forests of Southern Appalachia, she studies how land use and climate change affect the benefits people derive from nature.

As ESA president, Turner says she plans to “help steer the society through its transition from self-publishing the ESA journals to a new publishing partnership, advocate effectively for the role of science in decision making, and address the challenge of how to best serve our membership in the years ahead.”