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Jan. 3, 2013

Renowned environmental scientist joins MSU

Emilio F. Moran, a pioneer in the field of environmental research, will join the Michigan State University faculty today, becoming just the 11th Spartan that is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Moran, recruited from Indiana University, is one of only a few anthropologists worldwide to address the complex relationship between people and environmental change. His research has received more than $22 million in external grant funding, a remarkable figure for a social scientist.

He was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences in 2010. Ten other faculty members from Michigan State have been named to the 150-year-old organization; Moran is the first MSU social scientist to hold the honor.

“I am looking forward to working with MSU faculty, students and staff to advance the state of knowledge that allows science to contribute to society and the well-being of people in Michigan and throughout the world,” said Moran, who joins MSU’s Department of Geography as Visiting Hannah Professor.

At Indiana, Moran served as Distinguished Professor and James H. Rudy Professor of Anthropology, and a professor of environmental sciences. The author of 10 books and more than 160 journal articles, his work combines the natural and social sciences to understand human-environment interactions.

With 30 years of experience studying the Brazilian Amazon, Moran’s future work will contribute to MSU’s new Center for Global Change Science. The organization unites scientists from MSU and partner institutions in Brazil, Africa and China with a goal of studying – and lessening the impact of – environmental change. Moran will also work with the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations and the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability.

Marietta Baba, dean of the College of Social Science, said MSU’s partners in China have indicated a desire to forge stronger connections with environmental scientists in Brazil, and Moran’s engagement in Brazil provides the opportunity to leverage existing relationships to strengthen these scientific networks.

“It is a powerful statement of Michigan State University’s ability to attract world-class talent to our campus and to mobilize existing partners across the globe to develop new lines of environmental change research,” Baba said.

Moran’s use of advanced technology – such as remote sensing and geographic information systems, or GIS – to integrate the social and physical sciences while studying that relationship has been groundbreaking. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Social Science Research Council.

Moran is a member of NSF’s Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences. He also serves on the editorial board of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and on two National Research Council committees.

He holds a doctoral degree in social anthropology and a master’s in Latin American history from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s in Spanish American literature from Spring Hill College.