The National Council for Science and the Environment
During his Pew Fellowship, Hubbell established the Committee for the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE). Supported by over 500 academic, scientific, environmental and business organizations as well as by federal, state and local government, NCSE works closely with the many communities that create and use environmental knowledge to make and shape environmental decisions. As an organization where diverse communities can find common ground, NCSE focuses on the role of science but does not take positions on environmental issues themselves.
Stephen Hubbell was pursuing a career in biochemistry when a trip to Honduras convinced him to pursue ecology instead. As a professor at the University of Michigan, he became active in teaching graduate courses for the Organization for Tropical Studies in Costa Rica. Later, at Princeton University, where he was a professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Hubbell continued academic research on the population biology of tropical trees.
In early 1999, results from one of his multi-year forestry studies revealed significant new information about what allows tropical forests to maintain such a diverse variety of tree species. Hubbell's findings have cast doubt on the "light gap" theory of ecology and logging approaches which are based on it. The light gap question is just one of a series of issues being illuminated by his research, an effort that he helped start nearly 20 years ago, to track the diversity of species in tropical forests. In the original baseline study, conducted on a 120-acre plot within a tropical forest on an island in the Panama Canal, researchers tagged 300,000 trees. They have gone back every few years to repeat the process. It takes a team of 15 people nine months to comb through the plot and update the data. The project's success led to a series of collaborations that eventually resulted in the creation of 15 other 120-acre sites in 12 countries, involving scientists from three dozen institutions.
In addition to his ongoing field studies and academic work, Hubbell took on a major public policy challenge: revamping the way in which the federal government approaches the issues of the environment. Pursuing his goal to establish a new federal entity, the National Institute for the Environment (NIE), Hubbell has led a broad coalition of supporters at the grass-roots and at high-policy levels from both the private and public sectors.
Ph.D., University of California Berkeley
1969: Zoology, California, USA
Bachelor of Arts, Carleton College
1963: Biology, Minnesota, USA
KEY LEADERSHIP POSITIONS
National Council for Science and the Environment
American Adacemy of Arts and Sciences
KEY AWARDS & HONORS
1990: Pew Fellows Program in Conservation and the Environment