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Cary Institute President to Retire in 2014

International search underway to find successor

Dr. William H. Schlesinger
, President of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, recently announced that he will be retiring in June of 2014, effective with the naming of his successor.

"I was drawn to Millbrook because, within the academic world, Cary Institute scientists are leaders in understanding how human activities impact both natural ecosystems and the spread of infectious disease," Schlesinger remarked. "It's been an honor working with them to advance their globally important work, and connect findings with citizens and policy makers."

Schlesinger is the second president of the 30-year old environmental research organization, succeeding founding president Dr. Gene E. Likens in 2007. Under his leadership, the Cary Institute has streamlined its facilities, strengthened its outreach efforts, diversified its funding platform, and performed strategic hires that have deepened the organization's expertise in disease ecology and freshwater science.

Among those hired since 2007 are disease ecologist Dr. Shannon L. LaDeau and aquatic ecologist Dr. Emma J. Rosi-Marshall. "New professors are often given heavy teaching loads. Being part of the Cary Institute's scientific team has allowed me to focus on developing my research program, while receiving guidance from leaders in the field, like Bill Schlesinger," LaDeau commented. Last year, she received a $1.4 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate West Nile virus vectors in urban areas.

The Cary Institute is home to 16 core scientists and a staff of more than 100.

Rosi-Marshall recently established an artificial stream research facility at the Cary Institute, to facilitate her cutting-edge work on how pharmaceutical pollution impacts stream ecology and water quality. "Bill embraces emerging areas in environmental science, and he doesn't shy away from controversial topics. He's been a firm supporter of my research, working with me to identify funding channels and create essential infrastructure to foster new research," Rosi-Marshall noted.

During his tenure, Schlesinger established a number of outreach and communication efforts, among them the popular Friday Nights at Cary public lecture series, Science and Management Forums for decision makers, residency opportunities for artists and writers, and various media partnerships. Earth Wise, the Cary Institute's daily radio collaboration with WAMC Northeast Public Radio, has aired more than 450 segments.

"Bill thinks that it is important for scientists to translate their research findings to nonscientists who might benefit from that research, and has encouraged all of us at Cary to do things like write newspaper columns, give public lectures, talk with school kids, and train teachers," commented Dr. David Strayer, a Distinguished Senior Scientist at the Cary Institute and G. Evelyn Hutchinson Chair.

Over the next 6 months, the Cary Institute's Board of Trustees will be conducting an international presidential search. "Our goal," Board Chair Irene Banning commented, "is to find an entrepreneurial leader with the vision needed to advance the Cary Institute's core science programs, pursue a diversity of financial support, and continue ongoing efforts to translate science to citizens, decision makers, and educators.

The Institute's 150 seat auditorium is a venue for public lectures, scientific seminars, conferences, and science and management forums.

Schlesinger is an elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a past-president of the Ecological Society of America, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He sits on the boards of the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

An expert in soil carbon, Schlesinger is the author or coauthor of more than 200 scientific papers and the widely-adopted textbook, Biogeochemistry: An Analysis of Global Change. He has testified before U.S. House and Senate committees and his work informs the Clean Air Act and California Desert Protection Act.

A graduate of Dartmouth College (A.B) and Cornell University (Ph.D.), Schlesinger began his career at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He went on to spend more than twenty years as a professor at Duke University, serving as Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences from 2001 to 2007.

Banning concludes, "Bill is handing over, at a dynamic time, a healthy institution with a strong reputation for scientific excellence."

A job description is available at:

The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is a private, nonprofit environmental research organization located on 2,000-acres in New York's Hudson Valley. With a staff of more than 100, including 16 core scientists, it is a world-premier center for ecosystem science. Focal areas include freshwater ecosystems, the ecology of infectious diseases, and biogeochemistry. The science program is complemented by the Cary Institute's renowned education, communication, and outreach initiatives.