Zurich Funds Distinguished Visitors

The Zurich Financial Services Distinguished Visitors program allows the Bren School to host international leaders in environmental policy, law, business, and science to enrich and expand the intellectual life of the Bren School community and share insight on issues critical to climate change. Activities of the visitors, who are in residence for periods ranging from one week to one quarter, include teaching short courses, offering public lectures, conducting seminars, and leading colloquia and symposia planned around their research, professional endeavors, or areas of expertise.


Visitor for Winter Quarter 2013
Dr. Thomas Swetnam, Professor, University of Arizona; Director, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research
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Dr. Swetnam will be in residence at the Bren School from March 3-14, 2014. His public colloquium is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, March 5 from 11:30-12:30).

Dr. Swetnam’s research focuses on understanding forest disturbances and dynamics, and how they are influenced by climate and humans. He uses tree-rings and documentary sources to reconstruct disturbance histories of forest fires, insect outbreaks and tree demographics (i.e., natality and mortality) at local scales of forest stands and watersheds, to broad scales at regional to global scales. In addition to his interest in basic ecological questions about forests, disturbances, and climate, the practical applications of this work for resource management have been a key interest and emphasis. His recent projects have involved compilation and analyses of extensive fire-scar chronology networks that enable synthetic fire climatology investigations at multiple scales. The parallel of this work in tree-ring studies is the compilation of vast networks of tree-ring width and density chronologies by dendroclimatologists, and the resulting reconstructions of climatic indices spanning centuries to millennia, and continents to hemispheres. Swetnam, his students and colleagues have been capitalizing in recent years on the availability of these long climate reconstructions in comparative analyses with the tree-ring based disturbance history networks. Their results have important implications for the understanding of past and present climate changes in driving disturbance and ecosystem changes at regional to global scales.


Visitor for Spring Quarter 2014
Dr. Tim Flannery, Principal Research Scientist, Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia.

Dr. Flannery will be in residence at the Bren School from May 27-June 6, 2014. His public colloquium is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, May 28 from 11:30-12:30.

Dr. Flannery is a zoologist, a paleontologist, and a mammologist, as well as one of the world’s leading scientific thinkers and writers on climate change. In his best-selling book The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing the Climate and What it Means for Life on Earth (Text Publishing Company 2005) Flannery uses layman’s language in arguing the need to act quickly to prevent the worst impacts of a warming planet. Thanks largely to that book, Dr. Flannery was named Australian of the Year in 2007. His previous best-selling book, The Future Eaters: An Ecological History of Australasian Lands and People (1994) described how Australians had been using up their ecological resources to the detriment of their future. In 1998–99, he was the visiting professor of Australian studies at Harvard University, and in 1999 he became the director of the South Australian Museum in Adelaide.


Past Visitors
Tom Swetnam, March 2014;
Don Wuebbles, May 2013
; see the video
Margaret Davidson, April 2013; see the video
Andy Revkin, May 2012; see the video
Edward S. Rubin, February 2012; see the video
Dennis Ojima, October 2011; see the video
Denny Ellerman, March 2011;see the video
David Tilman, January 2011; see the video
Virgilio Viana, October 2010; see the video
Mike Toman, April 2010; see the video
Matt Kahn, January 2010; see the video
Lynn Scarlett, October 2009; see the video
Richard Duke, April 2009; see the video
Thomas Lyon, February 2009; see the video
Stephen Schneider, October 2008; see the video