Townsend's research focuses on how ecosystems interact with a changing global environment, especially in tropical regions, and why this matters to human health and welfare. He is the author of more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and served as a lead author on the recently released U.S. National Climate Assessment. He has held leadership positions at university, national and international levels, including recent terms as a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and a fellow of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder, director of the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Environmental Studies Program, and director of the Division of Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation. He also has been active in engaging the public about environmental challenges. He was named a Google Science Communication Fellow in 2011 and an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow in 2001, both of which are programs that encourage and train scientists to communicate with wider audiences. He currently serves as the co-chair of the Leopold Leadership Program and blogs on a personal site called State Factors. Townsend received his bachelor’s degree from Amherst College in 1988, and his Ph.D. in biological sciences from Stanford University in 1994.
Dean, Nicholas School of the Environment (on leave)