Events & Media

The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
at the University of California, Santa Barbara



"From Petals to Petabytes"

Louis F. Pitelka
Senior Visiting Scientist
The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012
11:30 - 12:30
Bren Hall 1414

"NEON is a major investment by the National Science Foundation in the nation's research infrastructure for studying  environmental change from local to continental scales. This multi-site facility has the potential to dramatically increase our understanding of how species and ecosystems respond to changes in climate, land use, and species invasions. Lou Pitelka has been deeply involved in the design of NEON, and his talk will be of interest to the entire Bren community." — Frank Davis, faculty host

The US National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a large facility project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). NEON’s goal is to contribute to ecological understanding and decision making at the regional to nationa -scale. NEON will create a national network of observatories to collect ecological and climatic observations across the continental U.S., including Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The observatory will be the first of its kind designed to detect and enable forecasting of ecological change at national scales over multiple decades. NEON has partitioned the U. S. into 20 ecoclimatic domains, representing different regions of vegetation, landforms, climate, and ecosystem performance. Data will be collected from strategically selected sites in each domain and synthesized into data products that can be used to describe changes in the nation’s ecosystem over space and time and contribute to environmental decision making and forecasting. The data will focus on how land use, climate change, and invasive species affect biodiversity, disease ecology, and ecosystem services. These data and information products will be freely and openly available to scientists, educators, students, decision makers, and the public to enable them to understand and address ecological questions and issues. NEON began constructing sites in several domains this year. Construction of the full observatory – 60 sites – is expected to be completed in 2017. The seminar will provide an overview of NEON and will describe opportunities that NEON will provides for scientists.

Lou Pitelka's primary responsibility at NEON is to communicate with the scientific community. He brings to the position a wealth of experience in research planning and administration, project management, and team building earned while holding positions in academia, industry, and government. Most recently, he served two years as a Program Director in Ecosystem Science at the National Science Foundation. Before that, he was director of and professor at the Appalachian Laboratory of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, where he also was director of the Chesapeake Watershed Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit (CESU). Lou received a PhD in plant ecology from Stanford University and for more than two decades has been involved in planning, administering, and conducting research on the effects of climate change and other elements of global change on natural ecosystems. He served for a number of years on the Scientific Steering Committee of the Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems (GCTE) project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP), including serving as chair for two years. As a contributor to the IPCC 2005 assessment of climate change, he is one of the many co-recipients of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

NOTE: Community colloquia are generally talks of broad interest geared toward a diverse, sophisticated audience. Their purpose is not only to enhance knowledge and understanding, but also to bring people together and promote interaction that will strengthen the community.


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