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Science and Mathematics

Seltzer Lecture | K.D. Nelson Lecture Series – Dr. Cathy Whitlock

October 20, 2022 at 6:30pm7:30pm EDT

Heroy Geology Laboratory, Heroy Auditorium (001)

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The Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences presents the Seltzer Lecture, as part of the K.D. Nelson Lecture Series, featuring  speaker Dr. Cathy Whitlock of Montana State University. Her talk is titled: “Paleoecology, Climate Change, and Conservation”.

Paleoecology is a discipline that looks at the past to understand how ecosystems have responded to long-term variations in climate, natural disturbances, and human activity.  While history is fascinating in its own right, the discipline today faces a serious challenge: Is paleoecology still relevant for understanding a rapidly changing future?  Dr. Whitlock will draw on her research in Yellowstone and comparable ecosystems around the world to reconstruct changes in vegetation and fire regimes over millennia.   This long-term perspective helps define baseline conditions for conservation, including a better understanding of natural variability, and provides a platform for communicating the impacts of current climate change to the public and decision makers.

Dr. Cathy Whitlock is a Regents Professor Emerita of Earth Sciences at Montana State University and a Fellow of the Montana Institute on Ecosystems.  Her research interests focus on long-term climate and environmental change, and she has spent the last 40 years studying the ecological history of the northern Rockies as well as comparable large landscapes in New Zealand, Tasmania, Europe, and Patagonia.  Dr. Whitlock has co-authored over 225 scientific publications and trained over 40 graduate students and post-docs in her field.  She is also the lead author of regional climate assessments that explain the consequences of climate change in Montana and Greater Yellowstone.  Dr. Whitlock is a fellow of the Geological Society of America and the Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and  she was awarded the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award in 2014 and the A. Starker Leopold Award from Yellowstone National Park in 2022.

This event was first published on August 3, 2022 and last updated on October 18, 2022.

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