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Steve Jackson Receives UW Humphrey Award

April 25, 2011
Two men
Humphrey Award Mark Lesser, a Ph.D. student in the Program in Ecology and Department of Botany, and UW Professor Steve Jackson examine tree-cores from Ponderosa pine stands in the Bighorn Basin for tree-ring analysis. Jackson was selected for UW's top faculty honor, the George Duke Humphrey Distinguished Faculty Award.

Professor Steve Jackson, whose insights into the implications of global climate change have been published in the world's most prestigious scientific journals, has received the University of Wyoming's top faculty honor, the George Duke Humphrey Distinguished Faculty Award.

Named for UW's 13th president, who served from 1945 to 1964, the award recognizes teaching effectiveness, distinction in scholarly work and distinguished service to the university and state.

Recognized for his contributions to understanding Earth-system history, Jackson has emerged as a leader in integrating ecology, paleoecology and biogeography to assess the possible range of responses that might result from climate changes in the 21st century.

In two significant papers published in 2007, Jackson and collaborators raised the specter of novel climates as one of the possible outcomes of climate change. These papers have been cited more than 200 times.

"The idea of novel combinations of climate characteristics has far-reaching implications for agricultural land use, native dominated plant communities and ecosystems and for future plant and animal invasions," wrote UW Department of Botany Professors Bill Reiners and William Lauenroth. "Jackson's work since 2007 has continued and expanded on the theme of connecting our understanding of the past to insightful analyses of future climate changes. In 2009 he published two papers in Science and one in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the most prestigious of scientific journals."

Throughout his 26-year teaching career, Jackson has been the primary instructor in 19 different regularly scheduled undergraduate and graduate courses at three different institutions.

In 2004 Jackson became director of the UW Program in Ecology, an inter-college Ph.D. program that has become UW's largest. He also was research director for the National Science Foundation EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) program and was member or chairman of numerous university, college and departmental committees.

Jackson also has an extensive record of national service within his discipline. David Jablonski, a distinguished professor at the University of Chicago, noted Jackson has played significant roles on advisory and review panels and editorial boards.

"Standing out among these activities was Steve's work as vice-chair of a National Research Council committee that produced a major document on the consequences of global climate change," Jablonski wrote. "It provides a conceptual and practical roadmap for research priorities in this vital area, and was distributed and read widely among federal agencies and academic departments. Steve's 2009 election as a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science reflects his stature on the national stage."

"It is apparent that Professor Jackson has given generously of his energies, intellectual power and leadership to his department, college, university and discipline," Reiners and Lauenroth wrote. "His research and teaching have been and continue to be influential and widely recognized by his colleagues. His students hold important positions in universities and federal agencies and his service to the University of Wyoming and to science have been exemplary."

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