Renowned Ecologist Named Director of UW's Environment and Natural Resources Program

August 26, 2008

Ingrid (Indy) Burke, a renowned ecologist who has had a distinguished career in teaching and research, has been named director of the Haub School and Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) at the University of Wyoming.

"Indy brings to the job a keen sensitivity to the natural resource issues facing the Rocky Mountain region, a deep understanding of the scientific aspects of these issues, and the ability to craft a compelling vision for the teaching and policy-support missions of the Haub School and Ruckelshaus Institute," UW Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Myron Allen said when announcing Burke's appointment.

As director, Burke will oversee the Haub School, including its interdisciplinary programs and faculty development, and the Wyoming Conservation Corps, and will direct the Ruckelshaus Institute's applied research efforts, with an emphasis on Wyoming's open space, water and energy resources. She will also oversee the institute's outreach program designed to engage stakeholders and the public in collaborative processes for natural resource issues and to improve the linkages between science and management.

Additionally, Burke will have a central role in strengthening the university's connections with government leaders and stakeholders, representing UW in a variety of state and national settings and student opportunities.

"The opportunity to become part of UW's tradition of scientific partnership with Wyoming's natural resources and allied government and stakeholders is exciting," Burke said. "Rapid changes in science, management, technology, communication and national and international collaboration are leading to unprecedented opportunities for institutional leadership, particularly in the area of environmental sustainability."

The ENR program's strategy for environmental education "will involve both taking UW to the world and bringing the world to the university so that our graduates are equally at home, both here and in global environmental initiatives."

In recognition of her professional stature, Burke will join the UW faculty as a Wyoming Excellence Chair, funded through an endowment established by the Wyoming Legislature in 2006. She will have a joint appointment in the departments of Botany in the College of Arts and Sciences and Renewable Resources in the College of Agriculture.

Burke is a former professor in the Department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship at Colorado State University (CSU). She was also a CSU University Distinguished Teaching Scholar and co-Director of CSU's Graduate Degree Program in Ecology.

In addition to undertaking research and teaching at CSU, Burke has conducted internationally recognized research on shortgrass and sagebrush steppes. Her areas of interest are in soil organic matter dynamics, ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, regional modeling, global change, and pedagogical techniques. Her research has focused on land use management and its influences on ecosystems, scientific applications for minimizing the threat of wildfires, and studies designed to evaluate the effectiveness of environmental science and regulation at the national level.

The recipient of many honors in academic and scientific leadership, Burke also plans to help advance interdisciplinary entrepreneurship and scholarship at the university.

"My goal is to position the University of Wyoming in a national leadership role in a variety of fields of knowledge pertaining to the environment and natural resources," Burke said. "Toward that end, we must contribute to the development of intellectual capital in a national context by enhancing the educational, research and public service opportunities for students, faculty and staff."

As director, Burke will also serve as an ex officio member of the Ruckelshaus Institute Board. Comprising members from across the nation with a wide range of backgrounds in environment and natural resources, the board serves in an advisory capacity for both the Haub School and Ruckelshaus Institute.

"Indy will play an integral role in leading the Haub School and Ruckelshaus Institute's efforts and to fortify UW's position as a major university with first-rate academics," said John Turner, chair of the Ruckelshaus Institute Board. "With her stellar academic record and commitment to applied environmental research, she exemplifies our mission and values of conserving Wyoming's natural resources for the long-term."

Burke received her Ph.D. in botany (1987) at UW, and her B.S. (1980) at Middlebury College. In a career of more than 25 years, with a focus on the Rocky Mountain West, Burke has served as a member of several National Research Council (NRC) committees to review national environmental research programs and policies, and as a member of the NRC Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology. She is an associate editor of Ecological Applications and has been on the editorial board of the Ecosystems journal and of Forest Ecology and Management. She is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the Ecological Society of America.

Burke succeeds Harold Bergman, who served for more than a decade as director of the Haub School and Ruckelshaus Institute ENR and who grew the school from 20 students in 1994 to more than 130 while leading the institute in its many contributions to natural resource science and collaborative process. Bergman will resume his duties as a faculty member in UW's Department of Zoology and Physiology.

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