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U.S. Global Change Research Program Announces First National Nature Assessment Chapter Leadership

March 7th, 2024

USGCRP has named 11 Federal Coordinating Lead Authors (FCLAs) and 11 Chapter Leads to lead the writing of the first-ever National Nature Assessment (NNA1).

NNA1 will provide a holistic picture of America’s lands, waters, wildlife, and ecosystems and the benefits they provide to us—to our economy, health, climate, culture, and even our national security.

“The depth and breadth of our chapter leadership team is remarkable. We are incredibly fortunate to have the expertise, experience and leadership of these recognized thought leaders for America’s first-ever National Nature Assessment,” said NNA1 Director Dr. Phil Levin.

Chapter leadership will guide development of each chapter’s scope and content, with FCLAs and Chapter Leads playing distinct and critical roles.

FCLAs have a high-level coordinating role: they work closely with other FCLAs and serve to ensure consistency and cohesion across the assessment. They will provide federal input directly to the Chapter Leads and support the Chapter Leads in developing their chapters. They also serve as liaisons between author teams and the NNA1 Federal Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee solicited nominations for FCLAs within the federal government and chose the team from this pool. In making their selections, the Steering Committee took into account individual experience, expertise, leadership qualities, any past assessment experience, and the overall balance of the group. 

The NNA1 Chapter Leads provide leadership for the chapters—in developing their scope and content and directing chapter development and writing. Chapter Leads select all Chapter Authors and Technical Contributors and lead their author teams through cycles of federal, public, and peer review and revision. Chapter Leads also represent their chapters and the NNA1 in outreach and public engagement activities.

Chapter Leads were nominated through a public call for experts, issued by the Steering Committee in conjunction with the Department of the Interior, the NNA1 administrative agency. The Steering Committee worked with the FCLAs in considering each candidate’s leadership qualities, any past assessment experience, relationships within the nature and assessment communities, availability to commit to the time required for the role, and a range of diversity categories.

“The NNA1 is an exciting new venture to capture how investing in nature can get us to a healthy, prosperous, and equitable future,” said USGCRP Acting Executive Director Stacy Aguilera-Peterson. “The world-class team driving NNA1 is creating a new picture of nature in the United States and will give us much needed information about how to integrate nature into our decision-making and planning.”

NNA1 Chapter Leads and Federal Coordinating Lead Authors

Assessment Methods

  • Chapter Lead: Katie Arkema, Senior Earth Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and University of Washington

  • Federal Coordinating Lead Author: Jessica Welch, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (on behalf of NASA Earth Science Division)

Bright Spots in America’s Nature

  • Chapter Lead: Timon McPhearson, Professor and Director, Urban Systems Lab, The New School; Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

  • Federal Coordinating Lead Author: Emmett Duffy, Chief Scientist, Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network and MarineGEO Program, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Equity and Nature

  • Chapter Lead: Chris Schell, Assistant Professor, University of California Berkeley

  • Federal Coordinating Lead Author: Brenda Rashleigh, Assistant Center Director for Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Nature and America’s Cultural Heritage 

  • Chapter Lead: Rachelle Gould, Associate Professor, University of Vermont

  • Federal Coordinating Lead Author: Nicole Herman-Mercer, Research Social Scientist, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) - Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center

Nature and America’s Economy  

  • Chapter Lead: Rajat Panwar, Associate Professor, Oregon State University

  • Federal Coordinating Lead Author: Inoussa Boubacar, Research Economist, USDA Forest Service / Forest Products Laboratory

Nature and Climate Change

  • Chapter Lead: Chris Field, Director, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University

  • Federal Coordinating Lead Author: Carolyn Balk, Section Chief, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Nature and Human Health and Well-Being 

  • Chapter Lead: Howard Frumkin, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington; Senior Vice President, Trust for Public Land

  • Federal Coordinating Lead Author: Monika Derrien, Research Social Scientist, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station

Nature and the Safety & Security of the U.S.  

  • Chapter Lead: Todd Bridges, Professor of Practice, Resilient and Sustainable Systems, College of Engineering, University of Georgia

  • Federal Coordinating Lead Author: Safra Altman, Research Ecologist, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Engineer Research and Development Center

Opportunities for America’s Future

  • Chapter Lead: Patricia Soranno, Professor, Department of Integrative Biology, Michigan State University

  • Federal Coordinating Lead Author: Chris Kelble, Director, Ocean Chemistry & Ecosystems Division, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Status, Trends, and Future Projections of Nature 

  • Chapter Lead: Gillian Bowser, Associate Professor, Colorado State University

  • Federal Coordinating Lead Author: Gabrielle Canonico, Manager, U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Marine Life Program and U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observation Network, NOAA/U.S. IOOS

Status, Trends, and Future Projections of the Drivers of Change of Nature  

  • Chapter Lead: Danielle Ignace, Assistant Professor, The University of British Columbia

  • Federal Coordinating Lead Author: Maureen Kearney, Program Director, National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Environmental Biology