Three USGS Scientists Honored as Fellows of the Ecological Society of America

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The U.S. Geological Survey is celebrating the achievements of three noted scientists who are being recognized today as 2014 Ecological Society of America (ESA) fellows for making exceptional contributions to a broad array of ecological fields.

Reston, Va. – The U.S. Geological Survey is celebrating the achievements of three noted scientists who are being recognized today as 2014 Ecological Society of America (ESA) fellows for making exceptional contributions to a broad array of ecological fields.

The 2014 ESA fellow recipients from USGS are

  • Dr. James Grace, USGS National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, La., for his critical contributions to the causal modeling methodology known as Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) and to demonstrating its value for the study of ecological problems;
  • Dr. Jon E. Keeley, USGS Western Ecological Research Center for his paramount cross-disciplinary research including the Southern California Wildfire Risk Scenario Project, which seeks to makes sense of fire hazard risk causes through ecological, geographical and statistical views; and
  • Dr. Stephen T. Jackson, director of the Interior Department’s Southwest Climate Science Center, for his ingenious contributions toward effective engagement between climate scientists and resource managers, as well as indispensable research on the effects of environmental change on forests and wetlands.

The reception in honor of 2014 ESA fellows will take place at the annual ESA meeting in Sacramento on Monday, Aug. 11, from 5:00-5:45 pm.

ESA’s Awards Committee Chair, Alan Hastings, says that the fellow program’s goals are to honor its members and to support their competitiveness and advancement to leadership positions in the Society, at their institutions and in broader society. This program was established in 2012.

Meet the Fellows

Dr. James Grace, USGS National Wetlands Research Center

Award Citation: "James Grace is awarded the title of Fellow of the Society, which honors ESA members who are recognized by their peers for their distinguished contributions to the discipline.”

Following a successful career in academia, including having been an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas and a full professor at Louisiana State University, Dr. James Grace joined the USGS in 1992. It was at that point that Dr. Grace began to realize that the challenges of research within the holistic context of “How is this system going to behave?” defied all of the conventional statistical methods he had learned to that point. This set him on a quest for a suitable quantitative framework for learning about systems by confronting complex hypotheses with multivariate data.

Grace and his collaborators’ pursuit of this approach to studying systems has led him to outline and demonstrate a “third generation” of the causal modeling methodology known as Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). There is now a tremendous growth of interest in these methods not only in ecology, but also in many other branches of science.

Dr. Grace obtained his B.S. from Presbyterian College in South Carolina where he studied chemistry and mathematics before obtaining a degree in Biology. He obtained his M.S. from Clemson University, and his Ph.D. from Michigan State University, both with a focus in aquatic ecology. Grace’s selection as a 2014 ESA Fellow is an additional suitable honor to add to his numerous ecological accomplishments.

Dr. Jon Keeley, USGS Western Ecological Research Center

Award Citation: "Jon Keeley is awarded the title of Fellow of the Society, which honors ESA members who are recognized by their peers for their distinguished contributions to the discipline.”

Dr. Jon E. Keeley is a fire ecologist with the USGS Western Ecological Research Center, long based out of Three Rivers, Calif., in the shadows of Sequoia National Park. A native of San Diego County, Dr. Keeley developed an early appreciation for the natural history of landscapes, and how these rhythms and patterns shifted with seasons and with human contact. Combined with his wanderlust and his personal philosophy of "no limits" to research curiosity and directions, Dr. Keeley's career would come to cross the sciences of forest management, paleoecology, taxonomy, plant photosynthesis, evolutionary biology, natural hazards modeling, and of course, fire ecology --- all while connecting with colleagues spanning five continents.

His current effort, the Southern California Wildfire Risk Scenario Project, which seeks to balance reduction of fire hazard and resource conservation through ecological, geographical and statistical perspectives, is a perfect example of Dr. Keeley's cross-disciplinary vision. With innumerable scientific publications and having received the highest of USGS research commendations, Dr. Keeley’s election as an ESA Fellow is another fitting tribute to this accomplished ecologist. 

Stephen T. Jackson, Southwest Climate Science Center

Award Citation: "Stephen Jackson is awarded the title of Fellow of the Society, which honors ESA members who are recognized by their peers for their distinguished contributions to the discipline.”

Dr. Stephen T. Jackson studies the effects of environmental change on forests, woodlands, and wetlands. A native of southern Illinois, he received a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Indiana University in 1983.

Dr. Jackson is currently professor of Geosciences and adjunct professor of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Arizona, and adjunct professor of Life Sciences at Imperial College London.  Jackson is also professor emeritus of botany at the University of Wyoming where he worked for 17 years. He was vice-chair of the National Research Council Committee on Geologic Records of Biosphere Dynamics (2004-2005), president of the American Quaternary Association (2010-2012), and is currently on the Governing Board of the Ecological Society of America.    Dr. Jackson is a 2006 Fellow of the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program, a 2009 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2012 was a Visiting Research Fellow at Merton College, University of Oxford, and a Scholar in Residence at the Ucross Foundation.  His accomplishment as being named a 2014 Fellow of the Ecological Society of America is in accordance with previous recognitions as a distinguished ecologist.

Since September 2012, Jackson has been Director of the Department of the Interior Southwest Climate Science Center, a partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey and a multi-university consortium led by the University of Arizona.  In this new position, he is working to foster effective engagement between climate scientists and resource-management decision-makers, and to mobilize the research community to address critical information needs in the resource-management community.

Image: Jon Keeley Fellow
USGS Scientist Jon Keeley displays his passion for understanding the ecology of plant traits while conducting research on the manzanita chaparral in San Diego County.
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Image: Stephen T. Jackson Fellow
USGS scientist Stephen T. Jackson's research has taken him to a variety of ecosystems across North America, including old-growth longleaf pine savanna of the Gulf Coastal Plain.
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Image: James Grace Fellow
USGS scientist James Grace has executed research in complex ecosystems throughout the United States, and is shown here in Rocky Mountain National Park studying human impacts on wetlands.
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