Stephen Polasky

Regents Professor

Applied Economics, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, College of Biological Sciences, 2013

Regents Professor Stephen Polasky, Felser-Lampert Professor of Ecological/Environmental Economics in the Department of Applied Economics, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, College of Biological Science, joined the University of Minnesota faculty in 1999. Polasky was elected to the National Academy of Science in 2010. His pioneering interdisciplinary research combines natural and social science, specifically ecology and economics. Polasky is a leader in the study of natural capital and ecosystem services and in demonstrating its value in terms of its contributions to human wellbeing over the long-term. He is also a world leader in the broader question of land use and land conversion and the incentives or external forces that shape spatial patterns of land use. Polasky has played a key role in the Natural Capital Project, a partnership between the University of Minnesota and Stanford University. The primary goal of the project is to bring people, governments, and corporations to the realization of the value of natural capital in supporting human wellbeing, and to routinely incorporate those values into decision making. The software package InVEST that he and his colleagues built, has allowed users to analyze the impact of alternative land use and management decisions on a broad spectrum of ecosystems. InVEST has been adopted around the world, including in China and in Latin America. He also has contributed significantly to traditional resource ecology, optimal harvesting of resources, conservation biology, and other public goods.

Polasky has a superb publication record. He has published 138 peer-reviewed papers: Twenty-seven in the top general professional science journals; 47 in top rated economics or field journals; and 31 in top rated disciplinary natural science journals. His articles have been cited over 15,000 times. Polasky has a remarkable national, international, and local reputation and has been invited to give more than 300 presentations at conferences and seminars. Since 1999, Polasky has participated in external grant funds projects totaling $10,507,606 to support his research.

Described as a dedicated and committed teacher, mentor, and adviser, Polasky has advised 66 Ph.D. students; 56 of those either completed their dissertation or are in process of doing so at the University of Minnesota. Currently, he is chairing Ph.D. committees of students in applied economics; ecology, evolution and behavior; natural resource sciences and management; and conservation biology. He has served as a member on 30 other Ph.D. committees. He also has served on 17 M.S. committees while at Minnesota. Polasky’s students are exceptionally successful, having secured tenure track positions at top universities, think tanks, and NGOs. Many of his students have gone on to be top scholars and mentors.

Polasky’s service to his department, college, and the University of Minnesota is exemplary. He has served on the Promotion and Tenure Committee in applied economics as well as other committees in applied economics; ecology, evolution and behavior; conservation biology; and water resources. He has served as co-DGS in conservation biology and is credited with instigating the environmental economics seminar series in applied economics. He served on the task force charged to merge the College of Agricultural Food and Environmental Sciences (COAFES) and the College of Natural Resources (CNR) into the present College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS). He was co-chair of the committee to provide a blueprint of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) and was named as a Founding Fellow of IonE in 2007. Nationally, Polasky has served on editorial boards or as editor of numerous academic journals. He served as vice president of the Association of Environmental and Resources Economists (2009), and he has also served on many committees or advisory boards, including the Science Advisory Board of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Board on Environmental Change and Society for the National Academy of Sciences, the Science Council, and the board of directors for the Nature Conservancy, to name a few.

In addition to being elected into the National Academy of Sciences, Polasky was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (2007), and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2009). In 2012, he received the Publication of Enduring Quality award from the Association of Environment and Resource Economists. The University of Minnesota is fortunate to call Regents Professor Stephen Polasky one of its own. (Updated, 2013)

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