MacArthur Fellows Program

Lisa Curran

Tropical Forester | Class of 2006

Combining expertise in ecological processes with insights into the realities of forest communities to address deforestation and its environmental consequences in endangered areas around the world.

Title
Tropical Forester
Affiliation
Yale University
Location
New Haven, Connecticut
Age
45 at time of award

Lisa Curran is a tropical biologist who combines expertise in ecological processes with keen insight into the realities of forest communities.  Focusing her research on the forests of Indonesian Borneo and the ecology of its most economically important family of timber, Dipterocarpaccae, Curran works across disciplines and sectors to devise new strategies to address deforestation and its devastating environmental consequences. Using satellite remote sensing, field ecology, ground-based surveys, and in-depth analyses of the social, political, and economic influences on land use, her findings are having immediate impacts on development and conservation in tropical settings. Her 2004 Science paper demonstrating the rapid decline due to logging of the Kalimantan protected forest in Borneo, like many of her other papers on land use and climate change, addresses immediate policy needs. By developing consensus and fostering communication between diverse stakeholders (e.g., local and national land use, conservation, and economic development agencies), she is substantially increasing protection efforts in endangered regions. Through diplomatic skill, cultural sensitivity, and rigorous scientific acumen, Lisa Curran synthesizes concepts from the natural and social sciences to forge new, practical solutions for sustainable natural resource extraction and development.  

Lisa Curran received an A.B. (1984) in anthropology from Harvard University and a Ph.D. (1994) in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University. She was a Mercer Post-doctoral Fellow at Harvard University (1994-1996) and an assistant professor in the Department of Biology and the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Michigan (1996-2001). In 2001, she became an associate professor at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and was promoted to professor in 2006; she also serves as the John Musser Director of Yale’s Tropical Resource Institute. In addition to her academic affiliations, Curran has worked as a consultant for numerous international organizations and governmental agencies in South and Southeast Asia.

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Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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