Fall Conference Speaker Bios


Dr. Brent Auvermann’s extension and research programs involve environmental quality (air and water pollution) and manure management associated with confined livestock production.Specializes in livestock air quality, manure management and water quality. Projects on dust and odor abatement, feedyard dust characterization, air pollution policy analysis, land application of composted manure, advanced wastewater treatment for swine confinements, feedyard and dairy manure management, feedyard hydrology, aquaponics, nonpoint source pollution from rangeland and cropland.  

Presenting:  Some Implications of Climate Change for Feeding Cattle                        


Dr. David Brown is the Director of the USDA Southern Plains Climate Hub and joined the agency’s Agricultural Research Service in June 2016. As the Climate Hub Director, he leads a team of scientists and outreach specialists to conduct applied research, assess user needs and vulnerabilities, communicate weather and climate information to regional audiences, and build regional partnerships within and beyond USDA. David came to USDA from NOAA, where he previously served as its Southern Region Climate Services Director.

Prior to government service, he was an Assistant Professor of Geography at Louisiana State University, and held the same position at the University of New Hampshire where he also served as New Hampshire State Climatologist. A native of Pennsylvania, David holds a B.S. in Meteorology from Penn State University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Geography from the University of Arizona.

Co-Presenting: Regional Climate Services for Adaptation in the Southern Plains


Alex_DiPinto-370Dr. Alessandro (Alex) De Pinto is a Senior Research Fellow in the Environment and Production Technology Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute where he leads IFPRI’s work on climate change and is also IFPRI’s liaison with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security. He is an environmental and natural resource economist with 20 years of experience working in economically depressed areas. Dr. De Pinto has a PhD in Agricultural and Consumer Economics from the University of Illinois, and currently works on a series of climate smart agriculture research activities in Latin America, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa with a focus on agricultural risk management, resilience and low emissions development strategies. His research focuses on economic spatial analysis and he uses multiple modeling techniques to simulate the  effects of policy changes on food security, resilience and the environment.

Presenting: Climate resilience, sustainable food systems, and healthy diets: Can we have it all?


chrisFieldDr. Chris Field’s 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 of the commons. 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. 

Dr. Field assumed leadership of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment in September 2016. His other appointments at Stanford University include serving as the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies in the School of Humanities and Sciences; Professor of Earth System Science in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences; and Senior Fellow with the Precourt Institute for Energy. Prior to his appointment as Woods’ Perry L. McCarty Director, Field served as director of the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology, which he founded in 2002. Field’s tenure at the Carnegie Institution dates back to 1984.

His widely cited work has earned many recognitions, including election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Max Planck Research Award, the American Geophysical Union’s Roger Revelle Medal and the Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Science Communication. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Ecological Society of America.

Field holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard College and earned his Ph.D. in biology from Stanford in 1981.

Presenting: Challenges in Agriculture and Ecology


wendyFodenDr. Wendy Foden chairs the IUCN SSC Climate Change Specialist Group and am a Senior Researcher at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. She recently led development of the IUCN SSC Guidelines for Assessing Species’ Vulnerability to Climate Change, and spearheaded IUCN’s trait-based approach to assessing species’ vulnerability to climate change. Dr. Foden currently coordinates the African component of the Species Spatial Planning for Protected Areas in Response to Climate Change (SPARC) project and lectures in Conservation Leadership.

Dr. Foden previously founded and led the IUCN Global Species Programme’s Climate Change Unit (2007-2013) and the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s Threatened Species Programme (2003-2007). In these roles she initiated and coordinated several conservation and atlasing projects and founded a scholarship for research on threatened species conservation.

Dr. Foden’s focal areas include climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning, biodiversity monitoring and indicators, African conservation and systems ecology. She has a specific interest in translating science for practical conservation, and in fostering conservation leadership. Dr. Foden has a great love for wild and remote places, where she can frequently (not) be found.

Presenting: How Vulnerable are Our Species to Climate Change?


Dr. Lee Hannah is Senior Fellow in Climate Change Biology at Conservation International’s (CI) Center for Applied Biodiversity Science. Tracking with his interest in the role of climate change in conservation planning and methods of corridor design, he heads CI’s efforts to develop conservation responses to climate change. He works collaboratively with the Bren School and UC Santa Barbara to model climate impacts on species in California, and with the National Botanical Institute in Cape Town, South Africa to model biotic change resulting from global warming in biodiversity hot spots in that region. He has written on the global extent of wilderness and the role of communities in the management of protected areas.

Presenting: Bugpocalypse – Are You Prepared? 


williamHohensteinMr. William Hohenstein is the Director of USDA’s Office of
Energy and Environmental Policy, within the Office of the Chief Economist. The Climate Change Program Office provides coordination and policy development support for the Department’s climate change program. It serves as the focal point for the Secretary of Agriculture on the causes and consequences of climate change, as well as strategies for addressing them. Mr. Hohenstein is also currently serving as the Acting Director of the USDA Office of Environmental Markets and the Acting Director of the Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, which are also within the Office of the Chief Economist. The Office of Environmental Markets (OEM) was established to facilitate the participation of farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners in emerging environmental markets. The Office of Energy Policy and New Uses (OEPNU) analyzes and evaluates existing and proposed energy policies and strategies and reviews Departmental energy and energy related programs. 

Before arriving at USDA, Mr. Hohenstein served as a Division Director in EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics. Prior to that, Mr. Hohenstein served in the Climate Change Division of EPA’s Office of Policy Planning and Evaluation. He represents the United States at international climate change negotiations and has served as a U.S. representative to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Mr. Hohenstein has a B.S. in Natural Resource Management from Cook College, Rutgers University and a M.E.M. in Resource Economics and Policy from Duke University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Presenting: Positioning Agriculture for a Changing Climate: Challenges for Arid Land Systems


sonjaKlinskyDr. Sonja Klinsky held post-doctoral fellowships with the Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Cambridge, and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions in Vancouver, Canada after completing her doctoral work at the University of British Columbia. Her work has continually centered around the justice dilemmas presented by climate change and climate change policy design.

Professor Klinsky has been an observer to the UN framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations since 2009 which has been a foundation to her collaborative work with policy-science interface organizations. These collaborations have sought to generate theoretically sound and politically relevant proposals for constructively addressing debates about justice and fairness embedded in climate policy decision-making at all scales. In addition to this policy-oriented work she has also done research on public perceptions of climate justice dilemmas and policy options.

Presenting: Building Equity into Analyses for Climate Change Policy: Why and How?


mikeLangstonDr. Mike Langston served as the Assistant Director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Research Institute from 2004 until 2014 prior to joining the South Central CASC. Prior to that, he worked for 14 years with an environmental research and consulting firm in Florida where most of his research focused on treating wastewater using wetlands, wetland’s ecology, and the ecology of threatened or endangered species. Since returning to Oklahoma in 2000, his research interests and experience have included developing protocols for involving stakeholders in watershed management decisions, water policy development, and the nexus of water and energy development.

Co-Presenting: Regional Climate Services for Adaptation in the Southern Plains


johnNielsenGammonDr. John Nielsen-Gammon has been on the faculty at Texas A&M University since 1991.  He is currently a Regents Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and also serves as the Texas State Climatologist.  He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving a Ph.D. there in 1990. He does research on various types of extreme weather from droughts to floods, as well as air pollution and computer modeling.  

As Texas State Climatologist, he helps the State of Texas make the best possible use of weather and climate information, through applied research, outreach, and service on state-level committees. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological* Society.

Presenting: Texas Climate: Something Old, Something New


bobScholesDr. Bob Scholes is a distinguished professor of systems ecology at the Global Change Institute of the University of the Witwatersrand. He is among the top 1% of environmental scientists worldwide based on citation. He has led several high-profile studies, such as the Assessment of Elephant Management, Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change and Strategic Assessment of Shale Gas Development, as well as large research campaigns, such as the SAFARI 2000 and Southern African Millennium Assessment.

Dr. Scholes is the author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, third, fourth and fifth assessments. He has been on the boards of the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, the South African National Parks and South African National Space Agency.

He is a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, fellow of the CSIR and the Royal Society of South Africa, a member of the South African Academy, a research associate of the CSIR, a National Research Foundation A-rated scientist and a winner of the National Science and Technology Forum Lifetime Contribution to Science Award.

Presenting: The Future of Semi-Arid Lands


richardSeagerDr. Richard Seager’s  interests are in climate variability and change on timescales of seasons to millennia and in particular the causes of multiyear droughts around the world and how climate change will impact global hydroclimate. Dr. Seager analyzes observations, proxy climate records and model simulations and also uses idealized modeling to understand the basic climate dynamic processes in the atmosphere and ocean that generate global climate variability and change. Increasingly his work is extending to how hydroclimate variability and change will impact natural and human systems.

Presenting: Climate Variability and Change in the Great Plains 


markShaferDr. Mark Shafer established and is the University of Oklahoma lead for the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP), a NOAA RISA Team for the South Central U.S. He is also Associate State Climatologist with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey and Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability. His research interests focus upon natural hazards, particularly on communication between the scientific community and policy makers in planning for and managing societal response to extreme events and climate change.

Dr. Shafer was a coordinating lead author for the 3rd National Climate Assessment Great Plains Chapter (2014) and formerly chaired the AMS Board on Societal Impacts (2010-2011) and was a program chair for the Symposium on Policy and Socio-Economic Research (2008-2010).  Mark holds a PhD in Political Science and an MS in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma and a BS in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Illinois-Urbana.

Co-Presenting: Regional Climate Services for Adaptation in the Southern Plains


jeanSteinerDr. Jean L. Steiner is the Director of the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Grazinglands Research Laboratory in El Reno, Oklahoma, which is home to the Southern Plains Climate Hub. Dr. Steiner has been with the Laboratory since 2001 and leads and conducts research on watersheds and climate and leads research in sustainable forage-grazing systems. She has been employed by the Agricultural Research Service since 1983, first in the Texas Panhandle focusing on water conservation, crop residue management, and energy balance research in dryland agricultural systems, and then leading research in the Georgia Piedmont region focused on sustainability of agriculture at farm and watershed scales. 

Dr. Steiner is also the co-Director of the Grazing CAP project entitled Resilience and Vulnerability of Beef Cattle Production in the Southern Great Plains Under Changing Climate, Land Use and Markets. She has served on the Board of Directors and as President of the Soil and Water Conservation Society, and was the 2015 President of the American Society of Agronomy.

Presenting: Vulnerability and Resilience of Agricultural Systems to Climate Variability and Change