In June 2019, Bill Keeton (foreground) explored the wild and roadless Kôprová Valley in the High Tatras Mountains along the border between Slovakia and Poland, a place where natural processes, such as windthrow, avalanches, and native insect outbreaks, shape the landscape. The primary (never cleared) forests in the valley include exceptionally rare and unique old-growth stone pine stands, critical habitat for wolves, lynx, brown bear, and wood grouse. Collaborating with more than 20 scientists across Europe, Dr. Keeton’s Fulbright research will use data from reference forests, like this, located throughout the continent.
March 5, 2020
William Keeton, a professor in the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, has received a prestigious Fulbright Scholar Award to study the impacts of natural disturbances, land use history, climate change, and forest management in European forests. The presidentially-appointed J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced the award.
Keeton will serve as a visiting professor at the Institute for Forest Ecology at the Austrian University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna during spring 2021. In collaboration with scientists from 14 countries, he will lead a pan-European study of ecological-based forest management designed to emulate the effects of natural disturbances, such as ice, wind, insects, or fire, to help enhance biological diversity and forest sustainability.
“In response to global climate change, expanding insect outbreaks, and competing demands for resources, my research explores innovative ways to manage forests for a broader array of services and enhanced resilience and adaptation to change,” said Keeton. “As in North America, threats to forests in Europe are growing in severity with global change. How to make European forests resilient and adaptive is complicated by centuries of deliberate forest homogenization, which makes forests more susceptible to a variety of risks. And this makes transitions to new forestry approaches and ways of thinking particularly challenging. This award will provide the opportunity to bridge the divide between U.S. and European perspectives on sustainable forest management.”
Keeton will also teach a graduate seminar in carbon forestry, mentor students, and work to develop relationships among the Rubenstein School, University of Vermont, and a number of European research institutions.
“We are fortunate to benefit from the Fulbright program to support the research of our outstanding university scientists,” said Rubenstein School Dean Nancy Mathews. “This program ensures that we gain the best knowledge possible, from the best scientists, to address urgent issues such as climate change. Professor Keeton’s forest resilience research is high impact at the global scale and will undoubtedly aid our understanding of forest change in the Northeast.”
Keeton is one of more than 400 U.S. citizens who will teach, conduct research and/or provide expertise abroad for the 2020-2021 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as contribution to society and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.
The Fulbright Program, overseen by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, promotes mutual and scientific understanding between the U.S. and other countries. Grants are funded through annual appropriations by the U.S. Congress and by contributions from partnering countries and private parties.