Chris Field, Pamela Matson and Alan Townsend, Co-directors

Chris Field is the Perry L. McCarty Director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.  A 2000 fellow and longtime supporter of the Leopold Leadership Program within Stanford, Chris is interested in building on synergies between Leopold and the Woods Institute for developing leadership capacity among researchers to link knowledge to action. He has been deeply involved with national and international scale efforts to advance science and assessment related to global ecology and climate change. He served as co-chair of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change from 2008-2015, where he led the effort on the IPCC Special Report on “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” (2012) and the Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (2014) on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. His research focuses on climate change, ranging from work on improving climate models, to prospects for renewable energy systems, to community organizations that can minimize the risk of a tragedy to the commons.


A 2000 Leopold Leadership Fellow, Pam Matson is the Richard and Rhonda Goldman Professor of Environmental Studies in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, the Naramore Dean of the School of Earth Sciences, and McMurty Fellow for Undergraduate Education at Stanford University. She was an early contributor to the international global change research program, serving in leadership positions in the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program and Projects, and on the National Academy Board on Global Change. More recently she has been a leader in efforts to harness science and technology for sustainable development, serving as a member of the National Academies Board on Sustainable Development and as the founding chair of the National Academies Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability. Her contributions have been recognized through election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and as a recipient of a MacArthur prize. She served as Scientific Director of the Leopold Leadership Program from January 2005 to December 2013. She remains a member of the Leopold Advisory Board, which is comprised of past fellows and provides strategic oversight of the program.


Dr. Alan Townsend is Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Colorado - Boulder. Alan grew up in Hawaii and Montana, and both places forged his early interest in the relationship between humans and the world around us. He returned to Hawaii to do his graduate field work, an experience that developed a career-long interest in tropical ecosystems. He has since worked in a variety of places around the world, and began a long-term field program in southwest Costa Rica in 1999. Viewed broadly, his research focuses on how ecosystems interact with a changing global environment, especially in tropical regions, and why this matters to human health and welfare. He is the author of more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and served as a lead author on the recently released U.S. National Climate Assessment


Alan states that "the Leopold Program changed how I viewed my career," and since being named a Leopold Leadership Fellow in 2001, he has taken on a wide variety of leadership and engagement activities. He has held leadership positions at university, national and international levels, including recent terms as director of the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Environmental Studies Program, and director of the Division of Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation. He was named a Google Science Communication Fellow in 2011, currently serves as the co-chair of the Leopold program and blogs on a personal site called State Factors. Townsend received his bachelor’s degree from Amherst College in 1988, and his Ph.D. in biological sciences from Stanford University in 1994.