Stan Wullschleger, associate laboratory director for biological and environmental systems science at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is the recipient of the 2022 Commitment to Human Diversity in Ecology Award from the Ecological Society of America, or ESA.
The award honors Wullschleger for his long-standing contributions to increasing future ecologists’ diversity through mentoring, teaching and outreach.
“In 30 years of experience, Dr. Wullschleger interacted with hundreds of scientists, technicians and students, providing leadership, strategic planning and professional development opportunities,” the ESA stated. “We honor him for the initiatives to create an inclusive and diversified culture among scientists while bringing awareness to the discipline and ecological profession.”
The ESA awards committee noted that Wullschleger’s career is “marked by his commitment to providing opportunities, safe spaces and highlighting the contributions of different ethnic groups, gender identities and cultures.”
In addition to leading ORNL’s Biological and Environmental Systems Science Directorate, Wullschleger is an ORNL Corporate Fellow and oversees the lab’s Climate Change Science Institute. He also directs the DOE’s Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments Arctic project, or NGEE Arctic, a long-term endeavor exploring the function of tundra ecosystems in a rapidly changing climate.
“I am deeply honored to receive this award from the Ecological Society of America,” Wullschleger said. “Throughout my career, I have benefited from the insight and inspiration of my colleagues. Our teams must increasingly embrace diverse views, perspectives and life experiences as together we push the frontiers of scientific knowledge forward. It is essential that everyone be included, heard and valued as we interact to better understand, predict and develop strategies to address environmental change.”
Wullschleger and the more than 140-member NGEE Arctic team implemented a culture of safety, inclusion and trust as the foundation for their cross-disciplinary science, which includes field work in remote regions of Alaska as well as modeling, simulation and data analytics at multiple institutions. The intentional establishment and practice of these shared values was detailed in the science magazine Eos.
“In addition to his scientific contributions to ecology, Stan has been a respected champion for diversity within the research community. This is a well-deserved recognition for that commitment,” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia. “We are also grateful for Stan’s work in supporting ORNL’s initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion.”
‘‘Stan is a true leader in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion as part of the science culture, and the NGEE Arctic project that he manages has been a beneficiary of his efforts,” said Gary Geernaert, director of DOE’s Earth and Environmental Systems Sciences Division in the Biological and Environmental Research program of the Office of Science.
Wullschleger joined the ORNL Environmental Sciences Division in 1990 as a DOE Alexander Hollaender Fellow. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in forest biology from Colorado State University and a doctorate in crop physiology from the University of Arkansas. Wullschleger has spent more than 30 years at ORNL conducting research in the sustainable use of herbaceous and woody bioenergy crops as a renewable source of transportation fuel; the fundamental investigations of plant biology using a variety of molecular approaches; and investigations into the physiological mechanisms by which terrestrial ecosystems respond to global environmental change.
The award will be conferred at ESA’s annual meeting, scheduled for Aug. 14-19 in Montreal, Canada.
UT-Battelle manages ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science. – Stephanie Seay