Ecologist Nancy Grimm will deliver the 30th annual Odum Lecture at the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology on April 21 at 4 p.m. in the ecology auditorium. Her presentation, "The Only Certainty Is Change: Reflections on a Stream, a City, and a Public University," will be followed by a reception and is free and open to the public.
Grimm, a professor of ecology in the School of Life Sciences and senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, studies how climate change and human activities affect ecological processes in aquatic and urban ecosystems. Her ongoing research includes studies on the flow of nutrients through urban stormwater systems, the ecosystem services stormwater infrastructure provides and how climate change and variability impact the response of streams to disturbances like floods and droughts.
Much of her research has been done at the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research, or LTER, project, one of the few sites in the National Science Foundation-funded LTER system focused on urban ecosystems. Grimm has directed the interdisciplinary Central Arizona-Phoenix program since its founding in 1997, collaborating with engineers, hydrologists, anthropologists, geographers and others to explore how changing urban ecosystems affect human outcomes and how human behavior in turn alters ecosystem structure, function and sustainability.
In her presentation, Grimm said she will trace the evolution of her thinking about ecosystems, using illustrative examples to emphasize commonalities and differences between streams and cities and showing the importance of an interdisciplinary approach. The talk will draw upon over three decades of desert stream research on the impacts of hydrologic variability and heterogeneity on stream ecosystem structure and function, nearly two decades of urban research on how human drivers and responses shape urban ecosystem structure and function in a constantly changing environment, and nearly four experiencing the evolution of a large public university.
"Nancy Grimm is one of today's best thinkers—and communicators—in the areas of urban ecology, global change biology and stream ecology in general," said Seth Wenger, director of science at the UGA River Basin Center and an assistant professor in the Odum School. "Her work has been enormously influential."
Grimm is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; a fellow and past president of the Ecological Society of America; and a past president of the Society for Freshwater Science, formerly the North American Benthological Society. She is a recipient of the Director's Award for Collaborative Integration from the National Science Foundation.
As the author or co-author of more than 160 scientific papers, Grimm was also lead author of two chapters in the U.S. Global Change Research Program's National Climate Assessment released in 2014.
"The annual Odum Lecture is an opportunity to showcase the best in ecological science," said John Gittleman, dean of the Odum School and UGA Foundation Professor in Ecology. "We're honored that Nancy Grimm will deliver the lecture this year, synthesizing what is known on problems of global change and urban ecology."
Honoring the founder of the Odum School of Ecology, the annual Eugene P. Odum Lecture Series features speakers who address significant ecological questions in broad social and intellectual contexts. Previous Odum lectures have been delivered by pre-eminent scholars including ecologists Mary Power, Thomas Schoener and Stephen Pacala, biologists Marlene Zuk, Gretchen Daily and Jim Brown, botanist Peter Raven, conservation ecologist Thomas Lovejoy and then-director of the National Science Foundation Rita Colwell.