Ruth DeFriesRuth S. DeFries
Denning Family Professor of Sustainable Development
and Chair, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
(E3B) at Columbia University
10th Floor Schermerhorn Ext.
1200 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027
tel: 1 212 851 1647 / fax: 1 212 854 8188
Co-director, Undergraduate Program on Sustainable Development http://www.earthinstitute.columbia.edu/articles/view/2719
Please contact Amy Kohn email@example.com, Professor DeFries' assistant, for information, to set up appointments, etc.
Ruth DeFries’ research examines human transformation of the landscape and its consequences for climate, biogeochemical cycling, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services that make our planet habitable. The work is based on the premise that land use change involves tradeoffs between human necessities such as food and unintended environmental consequences such as greenhouse gas emissions and habitat loss. A particular focus is tropical deforestation and its impacts on atmospheric carbon emissions and conservation. The research analyzes land use changes over broad scales through the lens of satellite observations. She is actively involved in linking scientific information into policy decisions.
Download current CV here
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Recent Representative Publications
DeFries, R., E. C. Ellis, F. S. I. Chapin, P. A. Matson, B. L. Turner II, A. Agrawal, P. J. Crutzen, C. Field, P. Gleick, P. Kareiva, E. Lambin, D. Liverman, E. Ostrom, P. Sanchez, and J. Syvitski. 2012. Planetary opportunities: A social contract for global change science to contribute to a sustainable future. BioScience 62:603-606. pdf.
DeFries, R. and C. Rosenzweig. 2010. Toward a whole-landscape approach for sustainable land use in the tropics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107:19627-19632.
DeFries, R. 2008. Terrestrial vegetation in the coupled human-earth system: Contributions of remote sensing. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 33:369-390.
DeFries, R., G. P. Asner, and J. Foley. 2006. A glimpse out the window: What landscapes reveal about livelihoods, land use, and environmental consequences. Environment 48:22-36.
DeFries, R., J. Foley, and G. P. Asner. 2004. Land Use Choices: Balancing Human Needs and Ecosystem Function. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2:249-257.
Gutierrez-Velez, V., R. DeFries, M. Pinedo-Vasquez, M. Uriarte, C. Padoch, W. Baethgen, K. Fernandes, and Y. Lim. 2011. High-yield oil palm expansion spares land at the expense of forests in the Peruvian Amazon. Environmental Research Letters 6:044029. Pdf.
Macedo, M., R. DeFries, D. Morton, C. Stickler, G. Galford, and Y. Shimabukuro. 2012. Decoupling of deforestation and soy production in the southern Amazon during the late 2000s. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109:1841-1846.
DeFries, R., T. K. Rudel, M. Uriarte, and M. Hansen. 2010. Deforestation driven by urban population growth and agricultural trade in the twenty-first century. Nature Geoscience 3:178-181.
DeFries, R. and D. Pandey. 2010. Urbanization, the energy ladder and forest transitions in India's emerging economy. Land Use Policy 27:130-138.
DeFries, R., R. A. Houghton, M. Hansen, C. Field, D. L. Skole, and J. Townshend. 2002. Carbon emissions from tropical deforestation and regrowth based on satellite observations for the 1980s and 90s. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99:14256-14261.
Current and past Ph.D. students
M. Macedo, “Tropical Deforestation and the Land-Water Interface” (awarded 2012)
K. Wurster, “Using MISR to Assess the Impact of Charcoal Production on Forest Regeneration Rates in Southeastern Senegal” (awarded 2010)
S. Zeigler, “Incorporating Landscape in Population Viability Analysis: Improving Generic Modeling Platforms for Endangered Species Conservation” (awarded 2010)
D. Morton, “Savannization of a Tropical Forest Frontier: Carbon Consequences of Climate and Anthropogenic Fire from a Height-Structured Ecosystem Model” (awarded 2008)
J. Dempewolf, “Fire Dynamics and Woody Cover Changes in the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem 2000 to 2005: A Remote Sensing Approach” (awarded 2007)
L. Anderson (co-advisor), “Analyzing the Impact of Participatory-Developed Conservation Policies in the Negril Environmental Protection Area, Western Jamaica” (awarded 2007)
M. Songer, “Dynamics of Non-Timber Forest Product Extraction in a Protected Tropical Dry Forest Area in Southeast Asia” (awarded 2006)
V. Gutierrez, "Integrating Land Transformation Process into Fire and Carbon Modeling in Amazonia" (awarded 2013)
M. Fagan, "Growing up Fragmented: Improving Estimates of Carbon Sequestration from Tropical Reforestation" (advanced to candidacy)
M. Marlier (co-advise with K. Griffin), "Contributions of Biomass Burning to Air Quality Degradation" (advanced to candidacy)
M. Jain (co-advise with S. Naeem), “Resilience of Agriculture to Climate Variability in Northwest India” (advanced to candidacy)
M. Agarwala, “Mapping Forest Degradation in Tropical Deciduous Forests” (advanced to candidacy)
M. Cattau, “Tropical Peatswamp Forest Loss in Indonesia: Linking Landscape Connectivity, Seed Dispersal, and Carbon Storage ”
B. Clark, (co-advise with C. Palm), Title to be posted...
A. Neelakantan, Title to be posted...
EESC W2330 Science for Sustainable Development (Fall 2013)
SUSDEV W3330 Ecol. and Social Systems for Sustainable Development (Fall 2013)
Honors and Awards
MacArthur Fellowship, 2007
Member, National Academy of Sciences (elected 2006)
Fellow, American Academy of Sciences (elected 2010)
Fellow, American Geophysical Union (2009)
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (elected 2008)
Fellow, Aldo Leopold Leadership Program of the Ecological Society of America (2001)
Fulbright Award for Research in India (2007)