William H. Schlesinger

On 1 June 2007, William H. Schlesinger was named President of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, a private ecological research institute on the grounds of the Cary Arboretum in Millbrook, NY. He assumed this position after 27 years on the faculty of Duke University. Completing his A.B. at Dartmouth (1972), and Ph.D. at Cornell (1976), he moved to Duke in 1980, where he retired in spring 2007 as Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences and as James B. Duke Professor of Biogeochemistry. He is the author or coauthor of over 200 scientific papers on subjects of environmental chemistry and global change and the widely-adopted textbook Biogeochemistry: An analysis of global change (Academic Press, 2nd ed. 1997). He has published editorials and columns in the Charlotte Observer, Chicago Tribute, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Raleigh News and Observer.

Schlesinger was among the first to quantify the amount of carbon held in soil organic matter globally, providing subsequent estimates of the role of soils and human impacts on forests and soils in global climate change. He was elected a member of The National Academy of Sciences in 2003, and was President of the Ecological Society of America for 2003-2004. He is also a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Geophysical Union, and the Soil Science Society of America.

His past work has taken him to diverse habitats, ranging from Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia to the Mojave Desert of California, and three times as a Duke alumni tour guide to Antarctica. His research has been featured on NOVA, CNN, NPR, and on the pages of Discover, National Geographic, the New York Times, and Scientific American. Schlesinger has testified before U.S. House and Senate Committees on a variety of environmental issues, including preservation of desert habitats, global climate change and carbon sequestration. Schlesinger currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (New York), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC; New York), and the Southern Environmental Law Center (Charlottesville) and on the Board of Scientific Advisors for Terrapass LLC (San Francisco).

He and his wife, Lisa, live in Millbrook, where they enjoy birdwatching, gourmet cooking, and collecting southwestern art.