University of Vermont

Jennifer Jenkins

Research associate professor of ecology, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics

Jennifer Jenkins

Surely, the Norwegian Nobel Committee didn't notify Al Gore by e-mail. But that's how UVM's Jennifer Jenkins learned of her share. Jenkins, a research assistant professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, is not ready to add "Nobel Peace Prize, 2007," to her resume. "I think it's a stretch," she says, with a laugh, "though it is nice to have the work of the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] recognized."

Jenkins was one of 450 lead authors on the panel who contributed chapters to the reports commended by the Nobel committee for further connecting human activities and global warming.

Taking stock of greenhouse gas sources

Jenkins studies the effects of global-scale processes, particularly the cycling of carbon, on forests as well as urban ecosystems. Her team within the vast IPCC effort — involving more than 3,000 scientists from 130 countries — was charged with creating guidelines that nations can use for removing greenhouse gas sources from industrial smokestack emissions to cow flatulence to carbon uptake of lawns.

"Many nations, particularly developing nations, don't have resources to deploy a team of experts," Jenkins says. So, instead, they rely on the methods outlined by the IPCC.

"Jen is one of our eminent research faculty," notes Saleem Ali, associate dean in the Rubenstein School.

"I study urban and suburban carbon. In the places I work, there is an innate fondness for a very comfortable life," Jenkins says. But the consequences of not slowing carbon emissions, as she knows too well, are far more sober than fashion.

"The Northwest Passage is now melted," Jenkins says, and shrugs, "I don't have words for what's happening. Scary doesn't do it."