Karen McGlathery to Lead U.Va.’s Environmental Sustainability Efforts

Environmental sciences professor Karen McGlathery has been appointed the University of Virginia’s inaugural associate vice president for research, sustainability and the environment, Vice President for Research Thomas C. Skalak announced today.

In her new post, McGlathery will catalyze and lead pan-University initiatives related to sustainability and the environment, strengthening connections among the University’s schools and multiple people and projects in environmental sustainability, Skalak said.

She also will develop external partners for U.Va.’s environmental sustainability programs, ranging from corporate partners and private individuals to other universities, foundations, governmental agencies and international institutions, Skalak said.

“Karen is a world-renowned expert in ecosystems, with the breadth of collaborative experience to guide a comprehensive research university’s resources and address one of the grand challenges of our time,” Skalak said. “Her understanding of tipping points in complex human-natural systems, coupled with our faculty and students’ interests and expertise, will open new paths to global environmental sustainability based on science, design, cultural understanding, policy and market forces.”

McGlathery said, “U.Va. is poised to develop our broad portfolio of sustainability research together with world-class partners, to make highly visible and positive impact on the world’s environmental resources. The legacy of this work will be one of the most meaningful contributions our university can provide to society over the next 50 years.”

McGlathery received her B.S. from Connecticut College and worked for five years as associate director at the non-profit Earthwatch Institute before pursuing her Ph.D. at Cornell University. Prior to coming to U.Va. in 1996, she was a research associate at the University of Copenhagen and the National Environmental Research Institute in Denmark.

Since 2004, McGlathery has directed the Virginia Coast Reserve Long Term Ecological Research program, based at Virginia’s Eastern Shore. She also is a member of the Science Council and serves on the executive board of the National Long Term Ecological Research Program, which administers 25 National Science Foundation-funded sites that study long-term change in diverse ecosystems in the continental United States, Alaska, Antarctica and islands in the Caribbean and Pacific.

A specialist on effects of environmental change, including climate, sea-level rise, eutrophication and species invasions in coastal marine ecosystems, McGlathery has co-written more than 80 articles in leading journals including Nature, Limnology and Oceanography and the Marine Ecology Progress Series. Her most recent research at the Virginia Coast Reserve focuses on the role of large-scale habitat restoration in the provision of ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration.

Graduate students in her lab have worked in coastal systems in Virginia, New England, Florida, Bermuda, Denmark, New Zealand and Mozambique.

McGlathery teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in Global Coastal Change, Aquatic and Estuarine Ecology, Coastal Oceanography, and Conservation.

She was a member of the National Science Foundation Committee of Visitors on Centers of Excellence for Research in Science and Technology, and has served on numerous NSF review panels. She was an adviser to the National Academy of Sciences panel on causes and consequences of eutrophication.

At U.Va., she has served on President Teresa A. Sullivan’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, and has been a Pavilion Series speaker for the College of Arts & Sciences. She received the David Harrison III Award for undergraduate advising.

McGlathery is an associate editor of the journal Ecosystems, and has served as a guest editor for the journal Oceanography.

Media Contact

Cheryl Wagner

Office of the VP for Research