Science Advisory Board

Mission

To serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching and life-long learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the universe.

  • Catalyze interdisciplinary thinking and understanding about Earth and its future;
  • Be an adaptive tool for Earth education and outreach to industry, government, and the public;
  • Distill issues related to Earth systems planning and management for use by policymakers, students and the public.
Board Members

Cherry Murray, Deputy Director of Research, Biosphere 2, Ex-Officio 
Professor, Physics, The University of Arizona

Dr. Cherry Murray, Professor of Physics at the University of Arizona, is Deputy Director of Research at Biosphere 2 focusing on environment, water, food, energy, and sustainable development. She obtained B.S. and Ph.D, degrees in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Her research interests evolved from experimental condensed matter and surface physics to nanotechnology, innovation, R&D of telecommunications networks, to science, technology, national security and energy policy, science diplomacy and global sustainable development. From 1978 to 2004, Murray held a number of research and executive positions at Bell      Laboratories, eventually becoming Senior Vice President for Physical Sciences and Wireless Research, She then served at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as Deputy Director and Principal Associate Director for Science and Technology from 2004 to 2009.  She was dean of Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences from 2009 until 2014. Murray served as the Director of the US Department of Energy Office of Science, from 2015 until 2017, overseeing $6 billion in competitive scientific research as well as the management of 10 national laboratories. She then became Benjamin Peirce Professor of Technology and Public Policy and Professor of Physics at Harvard until her retirement in 2019.A member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-chair of the InterAcademy Partnership, Murray has received the US National Medal of Technology and Innovation as well as the American Physical Society Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award and George E. Pake Prize. 

Dr. Deborah E. Goldberg, Chair 

Deborah E. Goldberg is the Arthur Thurnau Professor Emerita and Margaret B. Davis Distinguished University Professor Emerita in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan, where she served as associate chair and chair for a total of 15 years and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Arizona.  Her research in plant community ecology has been recognized by election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Fellow of the Ecological Society of America, and Vice President for Science for the Ecological Society of America. Current research foci include the integration of community and ecosystem processes in plant invasions, the role of clonality in species interactions and community dynamics, and effects of climate change on alpine plant communities. Professor Goldberg has worked actively as a faculty member, and department chair to increase recruitment and retention and improve the climate for under-represented groups and has received multiple awards for her diversity and inclusion work at the University of Michigan. 

Ron Carsten 

Ron Carsten retired as Raytheon’s Chief Engineer for Missile Systems. He was a Raytheon Senior Principal Engineering Fellow with over four decades of system development for the company in Massachusetts and Arizona operations.  Ron has served at all levels of functional management, as well as program chief engineer and technical director, spanning design, flight test, and production of several major programs.  Since retiring, Ron has focused his attention on board work in the community. He has served for over a decade, and now chairs, the Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Science at the University of Arizona and has recently joined the Biosphere 2 Advisory Board. For the past few years, it has been his pleasure to also serve on the Community Advisory Board for Arizona Public Media, focusing on strategic planning. Ron earned Electrical Engineering degrees from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and the University of Massachusetts. 

Dr. Oliver Chadwick 

Oliver Chadwick received his PhD from the University of Arizona in Soil and Water Science in 1985. After working at JPL for eight years on NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth program, he joined the Geography Department at UC Santa Barbara in 1995 and at present is Distinguished Professor Emeritus there. He is Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Geophysical Union. His expertise lies in use of natural laboratories across Earth terrestrial landscapes to understand the chemical and hydrological processes responsible for soil and ecosystem functioning. Much of his work has focused on ocean volcanic islands in Hawai‘i, French Polynesia and Rapa Nui (Easter Island), as well as New Zealand. In these settings, he develops and uses trace chemical and isotopic tracers to quantify rock weathering and its support of ecosystem processes.

Dr. Vicki Chandler

Vicki Chandler is currently Dean of Faculty and Chief Academic Officer for the Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute (MSKGI). MSKGI is an innovative new liberal arts college that is a partnership between Keck Graduate Institute, a member of the Claremont University Consortium, and Minerva Project.  It offers a four-year undergraduate program with five majors and a master’s degree in decision analyses. She began at MSKGI as the Dean of Natural Sciences in 2015 and has been the Chief Academic Officer since January 2018. Her prior position was Chief Program Officer for Science at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which she held for 6 years.  At the Foundation, Dr. Chandler led the Science Program, which invested ~$100M per year to advance scientific innovation and discovery across a breadth of scientific areas.  Under her leadership the program’s portfolio expanded to include: a revamped Initiative in Marine Microbiology; collaboration with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to fund investigators in Plant Science; and new Initiatives in Data-Driven Discovery and Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems. The Science Program provided substantial early funding for the design and initial construction phases of the Thirty Meter Telescope and funded additional projects in the areas of biological imaging and science learning.  While at the Foundation, Dr. Chandler also coordinated efforts partnering with other Foundations funding basic research, which led to the establishment of the Science Philanthropy Alliance. She is an emeritus Regents’ Professor in the Departments of Plant Sciences and Molecular and Cellular Biology, and the founding Director of the Interdisciplinary BIO5 Institute, at the University of Arizona. She received her BA in Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley and her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of California San Francisco and was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. Dr. Chandler was on the faculty at University of Oregon and University of Arizona where she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Intro Biology, Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology. Dr. Chandler conducted research on the epigenetic control of gene expression in plants and animals for three decades, with funding from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health and American Cancer Society. Her honors and awards include a Presidential Young Investigator Award, Searle Scholar Award, the NSF Faculty Award for Women Scientists and Engineers, and the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award. She was appointed to the National Science Board in 2014 by President Obama. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002 and served on its governing council from 2007-2010. She has served extensively on national advisory boards and panels for NSF, DOE, USDA, NIH, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the National Academies of Science.  Examples include the NSF Biological Directorate Advisory Committee from 2001-2004, the National Research Council Committee on Defining and Advancing the Conceptual Basis of Biological Science (2006-2007), the Board of Life Sciences for the National Research Council (2007-2013) the Scientific Review Board for HHMI (2011-present) and the National Science Board (2014-2020).  She has served in an editorial capacity for multiple journals including Genetics, Plant Physiology, Science, Annual Review of Plant Biology and is currently on the editorial board for Proc. of the National Academies of Sciences.  She has chaired or co-chaired national conferences for Keystone, FASEB, and the Gordon Research Conferences (GRC), served on the GRC Board of Trustees, and in 2001 was Chair of the Board.  Dr. Chandler was elected to leadership roles in two societies, serving as president of the American Society of Plant Biologists in 2001-02 and president of the Genetics Society of America in 2014.

Dr. Robert Christopherson

Robert Christopherson, Bio 2 Advisory Board member since 2015, first visited the facility in 1990, before Mission 1. Robert attended “Re-Entry Day,” 28 September 1993. A college Professor of Geography for thirty years, teaching Earth system geospatial sciences. He received many teaching awards from his college and professional associations. He graduated from California State University, Chico, and Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. In 2012, CSUC awarded him their Distinguished Alumni Award and he was Commencement speaker in 2016 at his college. He is author of leading textbooks, Geosystems, Elemental Geosystems, and Applied Physical Geography. His books were first to teach physical geography using system methodologies. Biosphere 2 was illustrated in his first edition in 1992, as was climate change science. He received the Text and Academic Authors Association Lifetime Achievement and Service Awards, among others. On the Bio 2 Advisory Board he focuses on the Bio 2 Ocean project to which he and his wife donated funding for coral reef restoration research. Also, he serves on the Bio 2 Science Advisory Board and in the SAM Working Group. He is proud of the workdays he spent at Bio 2, pulling weeds and grasses from the mangroves, manually adding 7.7 tons of ocean salt to the Bio 2 ocean, among other Bio 2 experiences.

Dr. Constantino Macías Garcia 

A Biologist (BSc and MSc) from the School of Sciences, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, he obtained his PhD from the School of Biology, University of East Anglia (Norwich, England). He is a senior researcher at the Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva of the Instituto de Ecología, UNAM. A former head of his Department, he also served as Academic Secretary and then as Director of the Institute. He is fellow (III) of the Mexican System of Researchers, regularly lectures on Behavioural Ecology and on Behaviour and Conservation at both graduate and postgraduate level and his research focusses on the sexual selection. A growing interest of his is to understand the evolutionary consequences of adaptation to degraded and urban environments. He has been Honorary Lecturer of the School of Biology, University of St. Andrews, Scotland and member of the editorial board of the Journal of Evolutionary Biology. He is currently Associate Editor of the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, and member of the Academia Mexicana de Ciencias, the European Society for Evolutionary Biology, the Sociedad Española de Etología y Ecología Evolutiva, the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour, and since 2017 of the Board of Advisors of Biosphere 2.

Dr. Christopher Langdon

I received my PhD in Biological Oceanography from the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island in 1988.  My dissertation looked at the photo-physiological differences in three species of phytoplankton that explained why they bloomed at different times of the year.  During my time as graduate student I developed and patented an instrument for measuring dissolved oxygen in unstirred algal cultures that I used in my experiments. After, graduating from URI I accepted a post-doc position at Columbia University with Dr. John Marra. With him I worked on a Navy funded project looking at bioluminescence and the propagation of light through the water column.  During my years at Columbia I worked on many projects including measurements of open ocean primary production using the dissolved oxygen sensors I had developed as a grad student, a study of the effect of El Nino on primary production in the Indonesian Seas, hypoxia events along the New Jersey coast, the effect of Gulf Stream meanders on primary production off the US east coast, and a study of the effect of ocean acidification on corals conducted at the Biosphere 2 Center in Oracle, AZ. In 2005 I came to RSMAS at the University of Miami because I wanted to get involved graduate and undergraduate teaching and because RSMAS has long been a Mecca for coral reef research.  During my time at RSMAS I have supervised six PhD students and undertook research looking at the effects of ocean acidification on many aspects of coral biology and physiology including fertilization success, settlement, growth of juvenile and adult corals, heterotrophy, photosynthesis and respiration.  Currently I am supervising two PhD and two MS students.  I teach Introduction to Marine Biology Lab and Research Fundamentals to marine science undergrads and Tropical Marine Ecology and Field Techniques to RSMAS graduate students.

Dr. Mitchel McClaran 

Mitchel McClaran (PhD ’86, UC Berkeley) joined the University of Arizona faculty in 1986, where he is Professor of Range Management, Director for Research at the Santa Rita Experimental Range (since 2004), and Director of the Arizona Experiment Station (since 2020). Throughout his career he taught and studied rangeland ecology, management, and policy. He is a Fellow in the Society for Range Management (2014), and a Fellow in the Bart Cardon Academy for Teaching Excellence, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (2014) and was the recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award from the Range Science and Education Council (1999). He has authored or co-authored 106 scientific publications that address a diversity of topics from desert grassland ecology, livestock and packstock management, drought patterns in the southwest US, rancher preparation for drought, and a law review on livestock grazing in wilderness. As Director of the Arizona Experiment Station he pursuing ways to showcase and support facilities and practices that support a circular bio-economy where wastes are converted into resources such as capturing methane and nitrogen wastes from animal production systems.

Dr. Isabel Patricia Montañez

Isabel Patricia Montañez is a A Distinguished Professor and Chancellor’s Leadership Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Davis. Dr. Montañez is a paleoclimatologist whose research focuses on geologic archives of past atmospheric gas and ocean geochemical compositions and their linkages to climate and ecosystem changes. She received her Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1990 and has received several awards, including the James Lee Wilson Medal for Excellence by a Young Scientist, the Laurence L. Sloss Award from the Geological Society of America, the Jean-Baptiste Lamarck Medal from the European Geosciences Union, and the Francis J. Pettijohn Medal from the Society of Sedimentary Geology (SEPM). She is a Fellow of several professional societies (AGU, GSA, AAAS), a past Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. She served as President of The Geological Society of America from 2017 to 2018 and is current (since 2019) Chair of the Board of Earth Sciences and Resources, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Dr. Helene Muller-Landau 

Dr. Helene Muller-Landau is a staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.  Her research is directed towards understanding the structure and dynamics of plant communities and terrestrial ecosystems, especially of tropical forests. Her group integrates empirical and theoretical approaches to pursue this aim.   A major focus of her current research concerns quantifying the carbon budgets of tropical forests, investigating how these respond to environmental variation and depend on plant functional composition, and working to improve the representation of tropical forests in earth system models. She is also particularly interested in understanding the forces shaping the functional composition and diversity of tropical trees and lianas in different conditions.  She obtained a BA in Mathematics and Statistics from Swarthmore College, and an MA and PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University.  She did postdoctoral work at Princeton and at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.  From 2004 to 2007, she was an assistant professor in the department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.  In 2008 she moved to her current position at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. 

Dr. Kristin Neff

Kirstin Neff is a collaborative, public service-driven hydrologist working to conserve water resources in the western U.S. for people and nature. She is Manager of the Southwest Rivers Program at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, where she builds public-private partnerships and directs grantmaking for watershed restoration and conservation throughout the Southwest. Previously she was an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the U.S. Senate working on western water issues and a Postdoctoral Scholar at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory researching remote sensing applications in hydrogeology. She has worked and conducted research internationally in Mexico and Russia and taught environmental science to youth outdoors at the UAZ Science: Sky School on Mt. Lemmon. She grew up just 15 miles from Biosphere 2 and is a graduate of the University of Arizona (Ph.D., M.S.) and Wellesley College (B.A.). She lives in Colorado's Roaring Fork Valley where she enjoys spending her free time on rivers and skis.

Dr. Katharine Suding 

Katharine Suding is an ecologist who loves to think about plants, soils, and microbes. She is a distinguished professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she leads the Niwot Ridge Long-term Research Program, the Restoration Innovation Lab, and the Boulder Apple Tree Project. Katie studies the patterns and processes of life – species and how they interact, ecosystems and how they work – and how humans intersect with and affect these species and ecosystems. She is particularly interested in dynamics in systems over time, including feedback, resilience, and threshold effects, and how to manage and restore systems in a rapidly changing world. Katie received her PhD from the University of Michigan and spent a decade in the University of California system before joining the faculty at CU in 2014. She is a fellow of AAAS and the Ecological Society of America.

Dr. Virginia M. Weis

Virginia Weis is a Distinguished Professor of Integrative Biology at Oregon State University.  She obtained her PhD in 1990 in Biology from the University of California at Los Angeles in the area of coral reef biology and coral symbiosis.  She has been at OSU since 1996 where her group studies the cellular and molecular conversations that govern the relationship between corals and their microbial partners.  These symbioses are central to the health of coral reef ecosystems and when the partnerships breakdown due to environmental stress such as global warming, the entire reef ecosystem is threatened.  Her current focus includes efforts to build coral germplasm repositories to preserve coral biodiversity. She has instructed thousands of undergraduate students in introductory biology, invertebrate zoology, and the biology of symbiosis.  She has authored over 100 publications and mentored and trained 19 PhD students, 13 postdoctoral fellows and dozens of undergraduates.

Dr. Bryan Willson

Dr. Bryan Willson is Executive Director of the Energy Institute at Colorado State University (WWW.ENERGY.COLOSTATE.EDU) where he also occupies the Bryan Willson Presidential Chair in Energy Innovation and serves as a Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Willson served as a Program Director at ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, (WWW.ARPA-E.ENERGY.GOV ) from 2012-2016 and continued as a consultant / advisor to the agency until early 2019.  He has worked for over 30 years to develop and deploy large-scale technology solutions related to energy, air quality, and human health.  As an entrepreneur, Dr. Willson is co-founder of Envirofit International (WWW.ENVIROFIT.ORG), Solix BioSystems (WWW.SOLIXBIOSYSTEMS.COM), Factor(e) Ventures (WWW.FACTORE.COM), and Xpower. His research laboratory, the Engines & Energy Conversion Laboratory, has made important contributions in many areas, including: internal combustion engines, advanced vehicles, oil & gas production technology, advanced electrical grids, advanced biofuels, energy technology for the developing world, and advanced building technologies.  Dr. Willson is a Fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers and has worked in over 40 countries.