Lyle V. Jones Distinguished Professor; Professor of Geography; Director, Center for Galapagos Studies; Co-Director, Galapagos Science Center, San Cristobal Island, Galapagos Archipelago, Ecuador; Member, Curriculum for the Environment & Ecology; Research Fellow, Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Adjunct Professor, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador and the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. Developed and leads the Galapagos Initiative at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in association with the Universidad San Francisco de Quito; Dedicated (May 2011) the Galapagos Science Center, San Cristobal Island, Galapagos Archipelago, Ecuador – a facility for research, education, and community outreach and engagement programs in the Galapagos Islands; Galapagos Science Center is approximately 20,000 square feet in size, maintains a staff of 14 professionals, and contains a Microbiology & Genetics Lab, Terrestrial Ecology Lab, Marine Ecology Lab, and Spatial Analysis & Modeling Lab, in addition to faculty, staff, and student offices, conference room, community classroom, and equipment storage and outside terrace space for field experiments and teaching opportunities. Through an extensive and intensive program of integrated and interdisciplinary research, the primary goals of the Galapagos Initiative are to understand the complex nature of population-environment interactions, challenges related to resource conservation and economic development, global interconnections, science, education, and knowledge transfer programs that benefit UNC-Chapel Hill, our collaborators, and the global community, inform policy and management through investigative and integrative science, develop and translate research technologies to industry and government, and develop insights and understandings to address the cross-cutting challenges that face science, society, and the Galapagos Islands. In addition, the Galapagos Initiative will create a global template for the study of other conflicted and challenged places around the globe that are located in and around protected areas as well as in the many diverse environments where social and ecological sustainability is at risk. The primary question that guides the Galapagos Initiative is “What are the interconnections within the coupled human-natural system in the Galapagos Islands, and how do they affect the social and ecological vulnerability & sustainability of this World Heritage Site?”
Fulbright Scholar (2011-2015), Council for International Exchange of Scholars, Specialists Program – Accepted an invitation to the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia (2012), lectures presented at University of the Sunshine Coast, Griffith University, and Queensland University of Technology; Participated in “Workshop on Climate Change, Social-Ecological Dynamics, and Tourism in Iconic Protected Areas.”
Invited Speaker, Arthur M. Sackler Colloquia of the National Academy of Sciences on “Coupled Human and Environmental Systems,” Washington, DC (2016), invited author, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (see below):
Walsh, S.J. and Mena, C.F. (2016). Interactions of social, terrestrial, and marine sub-systems in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Sackler Colloquium on Coupled Human and Environmental Systems (Social Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Sustainability Science), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113(51): 14536-14543.
Invited Project Scientist, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute for Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR) (2012-2013); Distinguished Teaching Award for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2008); Awarded Honors for Lifetime Achievement, Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers (2007); Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2006); Edward J. Taaffe Distinguished Lecturer, Department of Geography, Ohio State University (2004); Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor, Department of Geography, University of Iowa (2002); Elected President (2003-2005), Vice-President (2000-2002), and Secretary (1992-1994), Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers; Awarded National Research Honors for Distinguished Scholarship, Association of American Geographers (2001); Awarded Research Honors, Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers (1999); Awarded Outstanding Contributions Award and Medal from the Remote Sensing Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers (1997); Named the Amos H. Hawley Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1993-96); Served as Director, Spatial Analysis Unit, Carolina Population Center (1992-97), and faculty advisor to the Spatial Analysis Unit (2000-present); Elected Chair of the Geographic Information Systems (1998-2000) and Remote Sensing (1994-1996) Specialty Groups of the Association of American Geographers.
Served on the Editorial Boards of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, GeoCarto International, Plant Ecology, Journal of Geography, The Professional Geographer & Southeastern Geographer; Served on the Dissertation Improvement Panel for the Geography and Regional Science Division of the National Science Foundation (1997-1999); Member of Review Panels, National Institutes of Health (2001, 2005); Member, Committee of Visitors, National Science Foundation (2003).
Launched a Book Series on the Galapagos Islands, with Springer Science and Business Media, Series Editors (S.J. Walsh & C.F. Mena), “Social, Terrestrial, and Marine Interactions in the Galapagos Islands,” (2012): “Science and Conservation in the Galapagos Islands: Frameworks & Perspectives,” (2013), (S.J. Walsh & C.F. Mena, Guest Editors); “Evolution from the Galapagos: Two Centuries after Darwin,” (2013), (G. Trueba & C. Montufar, Guest Editors); “The Galapagos Marine Reserve: a Dynamic Social-Ecological System,” (2014) (J. Denkinger & L. Vinueza, Guest Editors); “Darwin, Darwinism and Conservation in the Galapagos Islands,” (2017) (D. Quiroga & A. Sevilla, Guest Editors); “Sustainable Energy Mix in Fragile Environments – Frameworks and Perspectives,” (2018) (M.E. Tyler, Guest Editor); “Disease Ecology: Galapagos Birds & their Parasites,” (2018) (P.G. Parker, Guest Editor), “Understanding Invasive Species in the Galapagos Islands: From the Molecular to the Landscape,” (2018), (M. Torres & C.F. Mena, Guest Editors); “Urban Galapagos – Transition to Sustainability in Complex Adaptive Systems,” (2019), (T. Kvan & J. Karakiewicz, Guest Editors); “Land Cover/Land Use Change on Islands: Threats to Sustainability,” (2020 – In Press), (S.J. Walsh, D. Riveros-Iregui, J. Arce-Nazario, P.H. Page, Guest Editors).
Co-Editor of Special Issues in the Journal of Vegetation Science (1994), Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing (2002, 2008), Geomorphology (2003, 2011), GeoForum (2008), Journal of Land Use Science (2008), Journal of Remote Sensing (S.J. Walsh & C. Song) (2019).
Co-Edited a series of books for Kluwer Academic Publishers – “GIS and Remote Sensing Applications in Biogeography and Ecology,” (2001); “Linking People, Place, and Policy: A GIScience Approach,” (2002); and “People and the Environment: Approaches for Linking Household and Community Surveys to Remote Sensing and GIS,” (2003); Co-Editor for Elsevier, “Mountain Geomorphology – Integrated Earth Systems,” (2003); “The Changing Alpine Treeline,” (2009); and “Geospatial Technologies and Geomorphological Mapping,” (2012); Editor for Elsevier, “Remote Sensing Applications for Society Benefits,” (2017).
My research examines coupled human-natural systems and land use/cover dynamics in the frontier environments of the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon and the Galapagos Islands. This research recognizes that at local, regional, and global scales land use changes are significantly altering land cover types and their spatial structures, perhaps at an accelerating pace. This transformation of the Earth’s surface, particularly through deforestation, agricultural extensification, secondary forest succession, and urbanization, is linked to a variety of scientific and policy issues articulated by international organizations, such as, the International Human Dimensions Program and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program. In addition, program initiatives of the National Science Foundation (e.g., Coupled Natural-Human Systems Program), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (e.g., Land Cover/Land Use Change Program), and the National Institutes of Health (e.g., National Institutes for Child Health and Development Program and the former Roadmap Initiatives) revolve around the human dimensions of land use/cover change and the proximate/distal causes & consequences of such changes.
Finally, my research focuses on landscape characterization through statistical and spatial modeling and spatial analysis approaches. Geospatial data and spatial digital technologies (e.g., geographic information systems, satellite remote sensing, and global positioning systems) and approaches are developed and applied to study ecological systems and linked social-ecological systems. Of particular interest are new developments in complexity theory that conceives the world as consisting of self-organized systems, either reproducing their state through negative feedbacks with their environment or moving along trajectories from one state to another as a result of positive feedbacks. Biocomplexity combines social-ecological co-evolution and adaptive resilience to study coupled human-natural systems. Biocomplexity is described as the “properties emerging from the interplay of behavioral, biological, chemical, physical, and social interactions that affect, sustain, or are modified by living organisms, including humans” – it encompasses the complex interactions within and among ecological systems, the physical systems on which they depend, and the human systems with which they interact.
RECENT RECOGNITION & RESPONSIBILITIES
• Invited Speaker, 2019. “Land Cover/Land Use Change on Islands: A Synthesis of Global Islands.” Galapagos Symposium, San Cristobal Island (Sponsored by the Galapagos National Park and the UNC-USFQ Galapagos Science Center).
• Invited Speaker, 2019. “International Islands Network-of-Networks,” East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.
• Invited Speaker, 2019. “Synthesis of Drivers, Patterns, and Trajectories of LCLUC in Island Ecosystems,” NASA Land Cover/Land Use Change Program, NASA Science Team Meeting, Rockville, Maryland.
• Invited Speaker, 2019. Evaluation of High-Resolution Satellite Data for LCLUC Science, High Spatial Resolution Commercial Satellite Data Applied to the Study of LCLUC on Islands, NASA Land Cover/Land Use Change Program, NASA Science Team Meeting, Rockville, Maryland.
• Invited Speaker, 2018. Conference on Sustainable Development under Globalization and New International Urbanization, Island Cities and Urban Archipelagos, Zhoushan, China.
• Invited Speaker, 2018. “Human-Environment Interactions in Island Ecosystems – Social and Ecological Forces of Change,” Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (PUC-Chile), Santiago, Chile.
• Invited Speaker, 2018. “The UNC Galapagos Initiative: Research Opportunities in Darwin’s Paradise,” Undergraduate Research Symposium, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
• Invited Speaker, 2018. NASA Land Cover/Land Use Change, Science Team Meeting, Gaithersburg, Maryland, “Synthesis of Drivers of LCLUC on Islands.”
• Invited Speaker, 2017. NASA Land Cover/Land Use Change (LCLUC) Fall Webinar Series: Synthesis Studies, Synthesis of Drivers, Patterns, and Trajectories of LCLUC in Island Ecosystems.
•Invited Speaker, 2016. Arthur M. Sackler Colloquia of the National Academy of Sciences on “Coupled Human and Environment Systems,” Washington, DC.
•National Association of Foreign Student Affairs (NAFSA), Association of International Educators selected the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a winner of the 2016 Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for the Galapagos Initiative. The award is granted to just three universities each year that demonstrate innovation and creativity in a particular area of internationalization – i.e., the collaborative partnership between UNC-Chapel Hill and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and the development of the Galapagos Initiative, with particular emphasis on the development of the Galapagos Science Center, an education, research, and community outreach facility on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos Archipelago of Ecuador (Carlos F. Mena & Stephen J. Walsh, Program Founders & GSC Co-Directors).
• Invited Reviewer, Ralph Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award Program, 2016. Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).
• Named Best College/University Article for 2014 by the National Council for Geographic Education, Journal of Geography Awards Task Force; Brewington, L., Engie, K., Walsh, S.J., Mena, C.F. 2013. Collaborative Learning & Global Education: Human-Environment Interactions in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Journal of Geography, 112(5): 179-192.
• Course Instructor, 2014. Geospatial Data & Technologies (S.J. Walsh & C.F. Mena), USAID Training Grant, Certificate in Amazonian Studies, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador.
•Invited Member, Graduate School Review Panel, 2014. Department of Marine Sciences & Institute for Marine Sciences (Morehead City, NC), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
• Invited NASA Peer Review Panel, 2014. Terrestrial Ecology, New Investigator Program, Washington, DC.