Phil Townsend selected as 2008 Leopold Leadership Fellow

Phil Townsend, associate professor of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, is among 19 environmental researchers from across North America who have been awarded Leopold Leadership Fellowships for 2008.

Each year the Leopold Leadership Program selects up to 20 mid-career academic environmental scientists as fellows, who receive intensive communication and leadership training to help them deliver scientific information more effectively to journalists, policymakers, business leaders and the public. The program is based at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment.

Townsend’s research focuses on structure, composition and functioning of forested ecosystems subject to rapid change.

“The Leopold Leadership Program recognizes rising stars in environmental science who are taking on leadership positions in their fields and within their universities,” said Pam Sturner, managing director of the program. “Our program provides them with the skills and connections to make sure their research is heard and has an impact in the public arena.”

The program was established to fill a gap in environmental decision making: getting the best scientific information into the hands of government, nonprofit, business and community leaders to further the development of environmentally sustainable policies and practices, she said.

Each fellow will participate in two weeklong training sessions that include practice media interviews and testimony at a mock congressional hearing. The fellowship also offers peer networking and mentoring through the Leadership Network of program advisers, trainers and 115 past fellows who are active in science outreach and are working to infuse scientific understanding into public and private sector discussions about the environment.