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Environment Magazine September/October 2008

About Us

Executive Editor Bios

Susan L. Cutter  is a Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography the director of the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at University of South Carolina. Her primary research interests are in the area of vulnerability science—what makes people and the places where they live vulnerable to extreme events and how this vulnerability is measured, monitored, and assessed. Most recently, she has led a Hurricane Katrina post-event field team to examine the geographic extent of storm surge inundation along the Mississippi and Alabama coastline and its relationship to the social vulnerability of communities. 

She is an elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1999), and past President of the Association of American Geographers (2000). In 2006, Dr. Cutter was the recipient of the Decade of Behavior Research Award given by a multidisciplinary consortium of more than 50 national and international scientific organizations in the social and behavioral sciences.


Ruth S. DeFries is a professor in the Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology Department at Columbia University. Her research investigates the relationships between human activities, the land surface, and the biophysical and biogeochemical processes that regulate the Earth's habitability.  She is interested in observing land cover and land use change at regional and global scales with remotely sensed data and exploring the implications for ecological services such as climate regulation, the carbon cycle, and biodiversity.

She is a 2007 MacArthur Fellow and has been a fellow of the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program since 2001.


Anthony A. Leiserowitz is director of the Yale Project on Climate Change, director of Strategic Initiatives, and a research scientist at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. He is also a principal investigator at the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia University. His research focuses on American and international public perceptions of climate change risks, support and opposition for climate policies, and willingness to make individual behavioral change, including the psychological, cultural, political, and geographic factors that drive environmental perception and behavior. His work in the Arctic investigates social vulnerability to sea level rise and coastal erosion. He also recently conducted the first empirical assessment of worldwide public values, attitudes, and behaviors regarding sustainable development.

He has served as a consultant to the John F. Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University), the United Nations Development Program, the Gallup World Poll, the Global Roundtable on Climate Change at the Earth Institute (Columbia University), and the World Economic Forum.



Alan H. McGowan is an assistant professor in the Interdisciplinary Science Program at Eugene Lang College, The New School. He is interested in the social impact of science and technology, including environmental, environmental justice, and racial issues.

He is board chair of Student Pugwash USA; a board member of the Bermuda Biological Station for Research and the Metcalf Institute for Environmental Journalism; an elected member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Society of Environmental Journalists, and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.



Before retiring in July 2005, Timothy O’Riordan was a professor of environmental sciences at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. He has promoted the cause of interdisciplinary research for sustainable development and led two international research projects on the transition to sustainability in the European Union (1995–1999). Editor of a number of books on the institutional aspects of global environmental change policy and practice, his current research interests are focused on global-local relations and their implications for the transition to sustainability in Europe.

He was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy in 1999 and continues to be an active member of the UK Sustainable Development Commission.


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