UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Alan Taylor, professor of geography and ecology, will serve as interim director of the Penn State Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI) while director Susan Brantley is on sabbatical. His appointment began July 1.
Taylor to serve as interim director of Earth and Environmental Systems Institute
“EESI is lucky that Alan Taylor can take the helm,” said Brantley, distinguished professor of geosciences. “He has always been an EESI associate who does work for EESI committees and the EESI student cohort. He knows the ins and outs of how EESI operates.”
Taylor studies ecological biogeography and vegetation dynamics, focusing on the influences of changes and interactions of land use history and climate on fire disturbance and forest conditions in the western United States.
“With his expertise in ecosystem ecology and biogeography, Dr. Taylor’s leadership reminds us that earth and environmental systems cannot function without forests, coral reefs and savannas, without life,” said Lee Kump, John Leone Dean in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and an EESI associate.
EESI brings together scientists studying environmental science that crosses human to geological timescales and transcends from fundamental to applied science. Its scientists conduct transdisciplinary research on questions related to the environment and how humans interact with it.
“EESI has a remarkable group of scientists who are working on a set of interesting and pressing environmental problems,” Taylor said. “It's a great opportunity to help support this extraordinary group of people and the research enterprise in the college, and is a good way to spend my time.”
Taylor, who will have an office in the EESI suite in the Earth and Engineering Sciences Building, said he has several goals and projects for the coming year.
“There are three or four things I think that I'll be spending time on,” he said. “One is we're doing a renovation on the third floor and we are in the planning phase of that with a group of other EESI community members. We envision a collaborative space that supports interdisciplinary research on energy, climate and water — or a Joint Energy-Water-Environment Laboratory.”
Taylor said he also plans to help several new EESI faculty transition to Penn State and develop collaborations and to expand the EESI environmental scholars program to continue building an interdisciplinary community of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in the college.
“We’re going to implement several new ideas over the academic year to build community that should bear fruit in the long term,” Taylor said.