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UCLA Inst. of the Environment and Sustainability
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We generate knowledge and provide solutions for regional and global environmental problems. We educate the next generation of professional and scientific leadership committed to the health of the planet. We advise businesses and policymakers on sustainability and the environment. We inform and encourage community discussion about critical environmental issues. We drive interdisciplinary environment and sustainability initiatives on the UCLA campus. See:

Entries by UCLA Inst. of the Environment and Sustainability

Beyond Tomorrow: Why Environmentalists Need to Get Beyond Instant Gratification

(0) Comments | Posted September 17, 2015 | 11:55 AM


By Peter Kareiva, director, UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability

Humans have at least 100,000 generations of evolution as hunter-gatherers, enduring feast and famine, acting as predators and hoping to avoid being prey. The legacy of that evolution...

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Peter Kareiva, Transformative Conservation Scientist, to Lead UCLA Institute

(0) Comments | Posted July 30, 2015 | 3:38 PM

By Phil Hampton and Alison Hewitt, UCLA Newsroom

Peter Kareiva, a leading environmental scientist and vocal advocate for using multiple disciplines to inform conservation, is the new director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Kareiva, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has published more than 100 widely cited papers on a range of topics and co-authored a textbook on new approaches in conservation science. He will be a professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology in the UCLA College.

Prior to joining UCLA, Kareiva was chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy, where he developed and carried out conservation programs for the world's largest environmental non-profit organization and forged partnerships with government, non-profit and private-sector partners. In a career spanning more than 20 years, he also has directed regional fisheries conservation programs for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and taught at several universities, including Brown, Stanford and the universities of Virginia and Washington.

"Peter is superbly qualified to direct the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability because of his outstanding scholarship and teaching, his impressive administrative skills and his passionate commitment to civic engagement," said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh.

"We need to inspire the next generation to take up the environmental crusade," said Kareiva, who is trained as a biologist. "But biology and ecology are not enough. We need environmentalism that attacks problems with engineering, technology, economics, politics, history, psychology, and the humanities and the arts."

Kareiva said he was attracted by the opportunity at UCLA to help shape future environmental innovators and apply a holistic approach to addressing major environmental challenges.

Kareiva's approach dovetails with the Sustainable L.A. Grand Challenge, a UCLA-wide research initiative to develop solutions to help the Los Angeles region transition to 100 percent renewable energy, 100 percent local water, and enhanced ecosystem health by 2050.

Part of his focus at UCLA will include research into urban conservation, improving environmental communications, and exploring the role of consumer choices in pushing businesses to go green.

Environmental solutions are best forged in urban areas, where most people live, Kareiva said, and UCLA is uniquely positioned as a top public research university in a large metropolitan area to partner with government leaders, non-profit groups and the general public to develop solutions. "If we can figure out sustainability in Los Angeles, Los Angeles can lead the world to sustainability," he said.

Kareiva will continue as a leader at the Nature Conservancy as the senior science advisor to President and CEO Mark Tercek. In this capacity, he will help guide and mentor a new team of world-class lead scientists by chairing the conservancy's Science Cabinet. This Cabinet has been created to provide high-level science aimed at the global challenges conservation now faces. He will also serve on two key advisory boards for the conservancy: its Science Council and the board for the Science for Nature and People (SNAP) partnership. Through the conservancy, select UCLA students will become NatureNet Science Fellows, as well as become working-group members in the SNAP collaboration.

"We are excited to strengthen our collaboration with a world-class university like UCLA," Tercek said. "Peter's new role will be a great opportunity to accelerate innovation in the NGO world while elevating the real-world application of academic research."

Kareiva is the co-author of the textbook "Conservation Science: Balancing the Needs of People and Nature." His scientific papers -- on topics ranging from global climate change and biotechnology to mathematical ecology, fisheries science and population viability analysis -- have been cited nearly 25,000 times. Kareiva's most recent work has focused on the interplay of human land-use and biodiversity, marine conservation, and the resilience of human and natural systems to global warming and other environmental shocks.

Kareiva fell in love with science and nature as a teenager, and even in high school his interest went beyond the classroom. He participated in the first Earth Day, and explored Canada on a week-long backpacking and canoeing trip. He went on to receive a master's degree in environmental biology from UC Irvine and a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University.

At UCLA, he directs an institute with more than 80 faculty members from academic departments across campus. Research is focused on environmental challenges such as climate change, air and water quality, biodiversity and conservation, energy, coastal and water resources, urban sustainability, corporate sustainability and environmental economics, with much of it coordinated through eight research centers. The institute offers a bachelor of science degree in environmental science, and a minor in environmental systems and society. It also offers a doctorate degree in environmental science and engineering.

To learn more about Peter Kareiva and the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, visit us...

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Slowing the Brain Drain in Central Africa to Protect the Environment and Public Health

(0) Comments | Posted November 8, 2014 | 9:11 PM

By Karla Renschler

Central Africa--long plagued by conflict and widespread poverty--faces another significant challenge to sustainable development: a debilitating brain drain. The emigration of talented scholars and researchers seeking an education in developed countries and then staying abroad is weakening the region's ability to deal with dire challenges such as water and food security, climate change, loss of biodiversity, and public health. The Congo Basin Institute--featured in the video above--has a vision for training African researchers and scientists at home in the region and giving them incentives to stay and work on solving local problems.

The University of California, Los Angeles--in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, and several other international development organizations and universities in the United States--is launching a campaign to build a state-of-the-art research facility in Cameroon, which will serve as a central hub for learning and research benefitting seven countries in the region. The institute represents a new model of universities in the United States investing in building the capacity to conduct world-class research locally by bringing international education and research facilities to the developing world.

Outfitted with cutting-edge research equipment, training labs, distance learning centers, and a lodging and conference center for scientists and students, the Congo Basin Institute will provide a base for collaborative research projects and provide training to local and visiting researchers working on critical issues in Central Africa. The institute will expand on UCLA's International Research and Training Center, which has already served 1,500 scholars from 15 countries, and a research station managed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

The Congo Basin Institute is the vision of Thomas Smith, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and director of the UCLA Center for Tropical Research, who has worked on conservation biology and public health in Central Africa for more than 30 years. In addition to UCLA and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, partners in the Congo Basin Institute include the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Drexel University, the University of Maryland, the University of New Orleans, the World Agroforestry Center, the High Institute of Environmental Sciences, and the Center for International Forestry Research, among...

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Can 'Prescriptive Evolution' Help Save Our World in the Anthropocene?

(0) Comments | Posted September 19, 2014 | 7:22 PM


By Karla Renschler

Is evolution about to get even more controversial? In an article in Science Express, the journal Science's forum for rapid publication of timely articles, a team of researchers makes a forceful argument for the use of "applied evolutionary...

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It's Time to Take Evolution Into Our Own Hands

(0) Comments | Posted September 13, 2014 | 5:10 PM


As founder and director of the Center for Tropical Research at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and a professor of ecology and evolutionary Biology, Tom Smith seeks to answer today's pressing questions about biodiversity loss and conservation...

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Man-Made Evolution Is Happening -- It's Time to Control It

(0) Comments | Posted September 13, 2014 | 4:38 PM


By Alison Hewitt, UCLA Newsroom

Evolutionary biologists have news for anyone accustomed to thinking of evolution as a long-term proposition: Evolution also takes place on a day-to-day basis, and it's a tool we must use to keep drug-resistant diseases from spiraling out of...

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California Falls Short on Water Conservation: But There's Still Hope

(3) Comments | Posted June 26, 2014 | 5:08 AM


By Kristen Holdsworth and Céline Kuklowsky

It seems that California Governor Jerry Brown's January 2014 plea for 20 percent water conservation has done little to actually reduce consumption across the state. According to a June State Water Resources Control Board report, Californians have...

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Green Wine Labels May Send the Wrong Signal

(1) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 8:25 PM


By Ashley Verhines

For some wine lovers, going green means sacrificing quality, according to a recent study conducted by UCLA researchers on eco-labeled wines.

Eco-labels (think USDA organic and Energy Star) are part of a growing surge of environmental policies aimed at...

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Family Wineries More Likely to Be Environmentally Sustainable Too

(0) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 8:09 PM


By Ashley Verhines

Family owners who intend to pass down their businesses to the next generation are more likely to invest in sustainable practices than non-family business owners, according to a study published in Family Business Review.

Magali Delmas of...

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Environmental Expressionism

(0) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 7:25 PM


By Karen A. Lefkowitz

Communicating about climate change and other environmental challenges isn't limited to scientific terminology and quantitative data. There are contemporary dance performances referencing pollution, large-scale installations that depict extreme weather events, and a symphony about sea-level rise. At a time...

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Lawrence Bender, Linkin Park, Henry Waxman Honored With UCLA Environmental Excellence Award

(0) Comments | Posted March 23, 2014 | 5:42 PM


UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability honored movie producer Lawrence Bender, rock band Linkin Park, and Congressman Henry Waxman for their environmental excellence at a gala in Beverly Hills this weekend. Cheryl Hines, star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, was MC for the...

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Preparing for Extreme Weather and Long-Term Drought

(0) Comments | Posted March 8, 2014 | 7:23 PM


By Karen A. Lefkowitz

Are you ready for extreme weather? Last week was National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a scientific agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


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Corporate Responsibility or "Greenwashing"?

(0) Comments | Posted March 1, 2014 | 2:42 PM


How can investors and consumers tell whether companies are doing the right thing by the environment or "greenwashing" their images to make it seem like they're doing the right thing? Magali Delmas, a professor of management at the UCLA Institute of the Environment...

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Market May Reward 'Greenwashing' Over Green Results

(0) Comments | Posted March 1, 2014 | 1:47 PM


By KC McKanna

A growing number of people are interested in investing in companies that perform well environmentally as well as economically. Unfortunately, measuring environmental performance is not as straightforward as calculating a simple financial return on investment. Developing a yardstick for environmental...

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Air Pollution: It's Complicated, But It's Still About Environmental Justice

(0) Comments | Posted February 12, 2014 | 3:57 PM


By Ashley Verhines

Many recent studies have shown that air pollution levels and income levels are linked. Poorer communities suffer from bad air more than wealthy communities. A recent study by UCLA researchers revealed some complications in this correlation, but found that air...

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Women in STEM

(3) Comments | Posted December 4, 2013 | 12:01 AM


By Karen A. Lefkowitz

Editor's Note: This post is part of a series produced by HuffPost's Girls In STEM Mentorship Program. Join the community as we discuss issues affecting women in science, technology, engineering and math.

Female trailblazers...

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How to Thrive in a Hotter Los Angeles

(2) Comments | Posted November 15, 2013 | 6:35 PM

UCLA today unveiled plans for a "grand challenge" to turn Los Angeles into a global model for urban sustainability in the face of climate change. The project is the first of six in the UCLA Grand Challenge initiative that will unite the university's resources to tackle some of society's most pressing issues.

In a kickoff event at UCLA's Royce Hall, university chancellor Gene Block described the ambitious project, "Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles," whose goal is for the Los Angeles region to confront climate change by shifting exclusively to renewable energy by 2050, while adapting to global warming by shifting completely to local water, instead of importing water from elsewhere, protecting biodiversity and enhancing quality of life. UCLA seeks to raise $150 million for the grand challenge to fund the research necessary to deliver a detailed action plan in 2019, including new technology and policy solutions. UCLA researchers will work with city, county, state and federal agencies, as well as community groups in developing the plan.

"Count on me to do everything I can to support you," L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti told Block and the dozens of UCLA researchers and donors at the event. "Let's get it done!"

Los Angeles city council members Zev Yaroslavsky and Paul Koretz joined philanthropist Tony Pritzker in pledging their support for the grand challenge, along with Cristin Dorgelo, assistant director of grand challenges in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

UCLA will provide regional decision-makers with a detailed plan for how to achieve full sustainability in greater Los Angeles by mid century. The roadmap will be backed by cutting-edge research, new technologies and breakthroughs, and recommendations on laws, policies and outreach -- many of which will be tested first on UCLA's campus.

The effort will involve six dozen faculty and staff from about 30 centers and nearly two dozen departments, including environmental science, law, economics, urban planning, public policy, engineering, public health, conservation biology, transportation and communication studies. "Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles" will engage experts from all perspectives of the issues -- from the root causes to the various solutions -- all with their sights set on a common goal.

By 2050, it is estimated that 70 percent of the world's population will live in cities and face the same urban environmental concerns currently present in the Los Angeles region: limited resources, smog, water waste, traffic congestion, increased heat and rising sea levels. UCLA aims to transform Los Angeles into a global model for melding urban infrastructure with natural...

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UCLA's Grand Challenge: Transforming LA into a Global Model for Urban Sustainability

(0) Comments | Posted November 15, 2013 | 12:09 AM


By Alison Hewitt

UCLA will unveil plans on Nov. 15 designed to turn Los Angeles into a global model for urban sustainability. The project is the first of six in the UCLA Grand Challenge initiative that will unite the university's resources...

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How to Clean Up Ocean Plastics Pollution: Actress Amy Smart and UCLA Experts on HuffPost Live

(7) Comments | Posted November 14, 2013 | 12:48 PM

Actress Amy Smart joins UCLA experts Mark Gold and Megan Herzog to talk about what we can do to stop the ocean plastics scourge that is ruining our oceans, killing marine life, and causing millions of dollars in damage each year. It will take action at every level: individual choices, community plastic bag bans, citywide pollution control measures, state laws, national policies, and international agreements. But it can be done.

This discussion builds on a recent report from UCLA,"Stemming the Tide of Plastic Marine Litter: A Global Action Agenda," which details the top 10 steps that need to be taken now to solve this global...

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UCLA Goes Green for Environmental Grand Challenge

(0) Comments | Posted November 13, 2013 | 3:19 PM


By Alison Hewitt

A strange green glow illuminates UCLA's iconic Royce Hall and Powell Library this week. The green sheen - provided by environmentally friendly LED bulbs, natch - is there to draw attention to a week of events leading up to a...

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