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  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Gonzalez has been appointed assistant director for climate and biodiversity. see more

    Patrick Gonzalez takes on responsibilities tackling climate and biodiversity with the White House.

     

    Photography by Al Golub

    By Steven Boyd Saum

     

    “Contributing science for solutions to global problems is one of the most important contributions that we can make as scientists,” Patrick Gonzalez (Senegal 1988–90) declared earlier this year at the Ecological Society of America’s annual conference. Now he has the opportunity to walk the talk in a new way: He has been appointed assistant director for climate and biodiversity by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

    A forest ecologist and climate change scientist, he has brought his expertise for years to the U.S. National Park Service as principal climate change scientist, and to research at U.C. Berkeley. But as High Country News noted several years ago, “The first unmistakable sign of climate change Patrick Gonzalez ever saw in the field was in Senegal.”

    As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, Gonzalez heard village elders lament that the yir trees were dying. He set out to find out why — and do something about it. He returned as a researcher and, walking 1,200 miles as he collected data, he documented that “since 1945, one out of three tree species in Senegal had disappeared, and one out of every five big trees had died.”

     

    Measure, learn, act: Patrick Gonzalez at work in Yosemite National Park. Photo by Al Golub

     

    The research and insight on climate change, ecosystems, wildfire, and carbon solutions he has done over the decades has informed new actions and policies. Credit him as lead author on four reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the science panel awarded a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He has also served on three U.S. delegations to the United Nations and on the roster of experts of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    She wants to see more girls from places like she grew up as Volunteers — and ambassadors. see more

    Linda Thomas-Greenfield wants to see more girls from places like she grew up as Volunteers — and ambassadors. 

     

     

    As a young girl growing up in Baker, one of my biggest dreams was joining the Peace Corps.

    —Linda Thomas-Greenfield
    Nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

     

     

    Why She’s A Fan

    Writing last fall for The Advocate in her home state of Louisiana, Linda Thomas-Greenfield noted: “As the oldest of eight children, I always had a strong sense of responsibility and curiosity. I became enamored with the idea of the Peace Corps from joining a group of trainees who were stationed at nearby Leland College for their language training.”

    Thomas-Greenfield didn’t end up serving in the Peace Corps, but her studies led to a grant to conduct research in West Africa — and to a 35-year career in the Foreign Service, including posts as U.S. ambassador to Liberia and director-general of the Foreign Service.

    As a Black girl who was the first in her family to graduate high school, she grew up in a town where KKK cross burnings were common. “The young girl from Baker in me did not imagine this career, and while I had few who looked like me at this level, I know the power that representation can bring to an agency like the State Department. My wish is for more girls from Baker and Baton Rouge to serve as United States ambassadors, diplomats, international aid workers, Fulbright Scholars, and Peace Corps Volunteers.”