Director, Southwest Climate Science Center
University of Arizona
Stephen Jackson in his new job with the USGS is aiming at bridging the monstrous gulf between academic and agency researchers and decision-makers in various federal, state, tribal, and local agencies.
As a professor at U. of Wyoming he studied the effects of environmental change on forests, woodlands, and wetlands. A central theme of his research is that we need to understand the history of ecosystems in order to understand their current states and predict how they’ll respond to global change.
Jackson’s most recent work has used tree-rings, fossil packrat nests, and sediments from lakes and bogs to document the dynamics of Great Lakes forests and Rocky Mountain woodlands during the past 6000 years. These systems have experienced repeated species invasions and extinctions in response to changing temperature and precipitation. These case studies from the past tell us how climate change might affect forests and woodlands in the future, and help anticipate “ecological surprises” stemming from global change. Jackson is committed to exploring the management, policy, and forecasting implications of these long-term records.
A native of southern Illinois, he studied botany and geology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and received a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Indiana University in 1983. He was a National Science Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow in Environmental Biology in residence at Brown University, and has held faculty positions at Indiana University, Idaho State University, and Northern Arizona University.