Humans, Nature and Ecology in an Urbanizing World
Ruth DeFries is a professor of ecology and sustainable development at Columbia University. Her research examines human transformation of the landscape and its consequences for climate, biogeochemical cycling, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services that make our planet habitable. She was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences (2006) and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (2006), a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship (2007), an Aldo Leopold Leadership Program Fellow.
With over half of the world’s population living in cities and towns, urbanization is a major force affecting the planet. Urban demand for commodities and infrastructure to connect cities is reshaping rural landscapes throughout the developing world, with both positive and negative impacts for people and nature. Integration of ecology with other disciplines is needed to provide the information base for reconciling development needs and conservation.