Keynote Speakers

Tuesday, March 23  |  9:00am – 10:00am

Virginia Burkett

Virginia Burkett, Ph.D.

Chief Scientist for Climate and Land Use Change (CLU), U.S. Geological Survey, Many, LA

“Climate Change and Sea Level Rise: A Synthesis of Current Scientific Understanding and Implications for Low-Lying Coastal Systems”

Dr. Burkett is the Chief Scientist for Climate and Land Use Change (CLU). In this role, she provides scientific leadership and guidance for several USGS programs, including the Land Change Science Program, Land Remote Sensing Program, National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, Climate Research and Development Program, Carbon Sequestration assessments, and the Earth Resources Observation and Science Center. She serves as Co-Chair of the US Global Change Research Program, which is comprised of 13 federal science agencies that are charged with implementing the US Global Change Research Act of 1990.

Dr. Burkett served as the Associate Director for the USGS Climate and Land Use Change Mission Area during 2015-2017 and as Chief Scientist for Global Change Research during the prior eight years. She was the Co-Chair of the Strategic Science Planning Team that developed the 10-year science strategy for the Climate and Land Use Change Mission Area. Dr. Burkett was formerly Chief of the Wetlands Ecology Branch at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, and subsequently the Associate Regional Chief Biologist for the USGS Central Region. Earlier in her early career at the state level, she served as Deputy Director of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). Dr. Burkett later served as Secretary/Director of LDWF. She also directed the Louisiana Coastal Zone Management Program and served as Assistant Director of the Louisiana Geological Survey.

Dr. Burkett has published extensively on the topics of climate change, sea level rise, and low-lying coastal zones. She was a Lead Author of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third, Fourth, and Fifth Assessment Reports (2001, 2007, and 2014) and the IPCC Technical Paper on Water (2008), and of all three U.S. National Assessments of climate change impacts produced by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Additionally, Dr. Burkett has published numerous journal articles, books, and reports that address climate change impacts and potential adaptation strategies. She is a Senior Editor of the journal Regional Environmental Change and serves on the Editorial Board of the journal Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics. She has been appointed to over 60 Commissions, Committees, Science Panels and Boards during her career.

Dr. Burkett has a doctoral degree in forestry from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.


Wednesday, March 24  |  9:00am – 10:00am

Stuart Brown

Stuart Brown

Coastal Resources Scientist Assistant Administrator, Planning and Research Division, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), Baton Rouge, LA

“The Louisiana Coastal Master Plan: Science-Based Long-Term Planning in Coastal Louisiana”

Stuart Brown leads the Strategic Planning branch of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) where he oversees the development of the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan. Stuart has been with CPRA for nine years during which time he has managed and advised on a range of coastal restoration programs and projects. Prior to joining CPRA, he worked for American Rivers in California and the National Park Service in Wyoming. Stuart holds a bachelor’s in environmental science from Gettysburg College and a Masters in Coastal Environmental Management from Duke University.

Thursday, March 25  |  9:00am – 10:00am

Hans W. Paerl

Hans W. Paerl, Ph.D.

Kenan Professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences, Morehead City, NC

"Mitigating Harmful Cyanobacterial Blooms in a Hotter, Hydrologically More-Extreme World"

Hans W. Paerl is the Kenan Professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences at the University of North Carolina’s Institute of Marine Sciences. His research addresses microbially-mediated nutrient/carbon cycling and primary production dynamics, environmental controls and management of harmful algal blooms, and assessing effects of human and climatic alterations of biogeochemical cycling, water quality and sustainability of inland, estuarine and coastal marine waters. He has published over 300 peer reviewed articles and book chapters on these subjects. He received the 2003 G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award from the Association of the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, and the 2011 Odum Award from the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation for addressing the causes, consequences and controls of eutrophication in aquatic ecosystems. In 2015, he was named a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

Thursday, March 25  |  3:30pm – 4:30pm

Ellen Herbert

Ellen Herbert, Ph.D.

Ecosystem Services Scientist, Conservation, Ducks Unlimited, National Headquarters, Memphis, TN

“Investment in Wetland Conservation - The Ducks Unlimited Mission”

Dr. Herbert the Ecosystem Services Scientist at Ducks Unlimited (DU), a nonprofit organization committed to wetland conservation across North America with special emphasis on wetland and grassland habitats critical to waterfowl populations. To date, Ducks Unlimited has conserved over 14.5 million acres of habitat and influenced over 177 million acres of habitat through policy measures. Dr. Herbert works as a member of DU’s International Science Team to evaluate the ecosystem services outcomes of Ducks Unlimited’s conservation work across the continent through a combination of field experimentation, numerical modeling, and data synthesis. This work supports DU’s goal of accelerating wetland conservation through public awareness, public-private partnerships, and public policy. Dr. Herbert is a member of the Steering Committee of the Natural Infrastructure Initiative and the Verification Committee of Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. Prior to joining Ducks Unlimited, Dr. Herbert researched the functional development of restored wetlands in the agricultural wetlands of the Midwest, assessed the impacts of sea level rise on vegetation and geomorphology of wetlands across the San Francisco Bay-Delta, studied the impacts of saltwater intrusion and eutrophication on tidal freshwater wetlands at the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER, and developed models of coastal wetland response to climate change. Dr. Herbert received her Ph.D. in Environmental Science form the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, where she was a graduate research fellow for the National Science Foundation and completed her post-doctoral research in the Department of Physical Sciences at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

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