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Pickett honored with ESA's Eminent Ecologist Award

Congratulations to Cary’s Steward Pickett, recipient of the Ecological Society of America's 2021 Eminent Ecologist Award, in recognition of his pioneering work on forest succession, urban ecology, and efforts to improve urban stewardship and sustainability.

From the ESA Announcement

The Eminent Ecologist Award honors a senior ecologist for an outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit.

Dr. Steward Pickett is a pioneer in understanding the non-equilibrium dynamics of landscapes and the ecology of urban environments. During his nearly 45-year research career, he has advanced knowledge in areas including physiological plant ecology, disturbance, succession and the nature of ecological theory, and his work has spanned environments from forests and old fields to urban centers. His scholarship on the philosophy and practice of ecological science has provided clarity for a complex science. Pickett’s experimental work on succession in the Buell-Small long-term succession experiment in the Hutcheson Memorial Forest Center in New Jersey revolutionized thinking about non-equilibrium dynamics in ecology. His later groundbreaking work applying non-equilibrium ecological theory to cities led a transformation in American ecology in the 1990s from a science that shunned cities to one that now embraces them as proper subjects for ecological study.

steward Pickett
Dr. Steward Pickett.

Pickett’s research has influenced practice, including both conservation and urban decision-making policies. One of his edited books (The Ecological Basis of Conservation: Heterogeneity, Ecosystems, and Biodiversity) is devoted to the application of basic ecological theory and concepts to conservation practice. Pickett and colleagues also have extended the ecology of cities to a newer concept of ecology for cities, shifting focus to envisioning and advancing urban stewardship and social goals of urban sustainability. This work is followed closely by city leaders in many locations, including Baltimore, where he has done much of his urban research.

Pickett also has influenced the field through immense service contributions to the scientific community. He has served on the editorial boards of numerous journals, on the boards of directors for the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the Defenders of Wildlife, on the Biological Sciences Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation, and on several National Research Council committees and boards, including the Committee on Scientific Issues of the Endangered Species Act, the Panel on New Research on Population and Environment, and the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology. In service to the ecological profession, he served as the ESA Vice President for Science in the mid-1990s and then as ESA’s President from 2010 to 2013.

The Ecological Society of America is the nation's largest organization of professional ecologists. 

Learn more about the award and 2021 winners.