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Gund Looks Back on 2013 and Ahead to 2014

It has been a busy year at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics.  We hosted the USSEE conference, welcomed three prominent speakers to UVM’s campus, and published over 40 peer-reviewed articles and one book. We welcomed new Fellows, Affiliates, Post-Docs, and Graduate Fellows while saying goodbye to key members of our community and our accomplished graduates.  Below are a few highlights from the year with links to in-depth news stories, and some exciting things we are looking forward to in 2014. 

Research

2013 was a productive year at the Gund, over 41 peer-reviewed articles were published and Asim released his latest book, Post-Kyoto Climate Governance A few publication highlights include: Joe’s examination of the Marine Mammal Protection Act after 40 years; a collaborative paper onMonetary and Fiscal Policies for a Finite Planet” published in Sustainability by Josh, Gary, Brian, Forrest, Steve, Matt, Adam, and Aaron; Taylor’s article in PNAS about the human health impacts of habitat alteration; and Ernesto and Meryl’s new article on carbon sequestration in smallholder coffee cooperatives in Conservation Biology

Those are just a few examples of the work we do at the Gund.  While we orbit around three main themes, the research is diverse.  We showcased that depth and breadth in October with our inaugural Gund Research Slam.  At the Slam 20 Gund researchers were challenged to present one key area of their work in four minutes. It was a fun and exciting afternoon, this video gives you a quick taste.   

Gund Creates a Stage

2013 wasn’t just about our research, but about creating the space to learn from others who are working on cutting edge and exciting developments in ecological economics and sustainability science around the world.  We started the year hosting two visiting UVM Burack Distinguished Lecturers. Dr. Pamela Matson who presented on, "A New Era in Global Change Science: Linking Knowledge and Action for Sustainability" and Dr. Paul Ehrlich who gave a compelling lecture, “What Are the Chances a Collapse of Civilization Can Be Avoided?”. 

In June we were honored to co-host the 7th biennial United States Society for Ecological Economics conference. Over 250 academics, organizational leaders, students, and other attendees came to UVM to address the theme of “Building Local, Scaling Global: Implementing Solutions for Sustainability.” We quickly followed the conference up with summer trainings on “InVEST” and “Landscapes Dynamics Modeling” with Dr. Britaldo Soares-Filho.

We closed out the year by bringing Dr. Stephen Polasky to Gund for his first visit as a UVM James Marsh Professor-at-large.  Steve gave a Marsh lecture, a Gund Tea, and completed a collaborative research project with Taylor, Gillian, Keri, and Jarlath to estimate the value of the Otter Creek wetlands in reducing flood damage in Middlebury during tropical storm Irene.

Policy Relevant Work

As the above snippet about Steve’s visits conveys, Gund researchers are committed to policy relevant research.  The work on valuing wetlands in reducing flood damage is part of a broader collaboration with the Vermont Agency for Natural Resources, Vermont Land Trust, and other conservation organizations in Vermont to understand the value of Vermont’s conservation efforts and where investments will increase flood resiliency within the state. 

Gund is dedicated to developing creative and practical solutions that can be implemented for a more sustainable future.  An example of this is our continued work on the Vermont Genuine Progress Indicator, a summary of which was presented to the Vermont Legislature in July.   Other work in Vermont included Jon’s testimony on behalf of the Conservation Law Foundation on a proposed natural gas pipeline in Vermont. On the national stage, Joe testified before the House on the impacts of the Endangered Species Act. Globally, Lini added her voice and research to the international discussions around climate mitigation in agriculture.

Growth and Goodbyes

At the end of the day, the Gund is about the people.  We are fortunate that we have a stellar group of Fellows, Affiliates, Graduate Fellows and Alumni who are committed to transdisciplinary research that matters. In 2013 we've welcomed the following new colleagues to the Gund.

New Fellows: William Keeton, Chris Koliba, Donna Rizzo, and Brian Voigt.

New Affiliates: Elena Bennett, Michael Coe, Paul Ehrlich, Pamela Matson, Steve Polasky, and Britaldo Silveira Soares Filho.

New Post-Doc: Insu Koh.

New Staff: Bryne Hadnott and Julianna White.

New Gund Graduate Fellows: Keri Bryan, Ariana Cano, Margarita Fernandez, Mairi-Jane Fox, Chester Harvey, Tracey McCowen, Charlie Nicholson, Bryan O'Connor, Skyler Perkins, Deandra Perruccio, Eduardo Rodriguez and Rachel Schattman.

We hosted two visiting scholars, Abdon L. Schmitt from Brazil and Dave Gammon from Eton University. 

Long-time Fellows Austin Troy and Gary Flomenhoft left UVM to pursue new and exciting opportunities.  We won’t let them leave completely, so they have become Affiliates – maintaining strong collaborations even at a distance.  The services provided to Gund by Austin and Gary cannot really be captured, we are beyond grateful for all they did for Gund.  

Other pillars of Gund graduated over the past year.  The following Gund Graduate Fellows contributed to the Gund’s legacy through their dedication, service and academic investigations.  We wish them well on their next steps and hope they continue to carry the torch of Ecological Economics out into the world:  Eric Davis, Brian Kelly, Brad Lanute, Matt Putnam, Daniel Sanchez, and Helena Vladich.  Soon to join their ranks are Pooja Kanwar and Jean Lee who completed their dissertations this winter and are now Dr. Kanwar and Dr. Lee! 

Looking Ahead

The exercise of looking back is an important one.  We can see the seeds we’ve planted for transdisciplinary collaboration, policy-relevant research, and the training of future leaders coming to bear.  We are proud of what Gund has accomplished over the past year.  We are looking forward to 2014 and seeing all of this great work continue and expand.  Some exciting areas include:

Economics for the Anthropocene – What began as a twinkle in Peter Brown’s eye a few years ago has coalesced into a international research initiative that brings together three powerhouse ecological economic groups – UVM, McGill, and York. Together with 25 partners and 60 collaborators we will train future leaders in solving transnational problems in policy relevant and community embedded ways.

Gund searches for a Behavioral Economist – We are in the process of recruiting a behavioral economist to join Gund as a Research Assistant Professor.  We are excited about the impact this person will have on our research, collaborations, and graduate students. 

Policy Relevant Research in Vermont – Gund has an impressive amount of Vermont based research that will continue in 2014.  Gillian’s work on a Vermont Climate Assessment, Taylor, Gillian, and Keri’s work on Vermont’s flood resiliency, Taylor and Charlie’s work on pollination, Eric and Jon’s work on the Vermont GPI, Joe’s upcoming work on conservation economics in Vermont, Ernesto’s work with farmers on climate resilience, and the UVM-wide work on Research on Adaptation to Climate Change.  Gund is privileged to be of service to our home state and it’s variety of people and landscapes. 

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