White House adviser named SNRE Dean

May 16, 2001
  • umichnews@umich.edu

ANN ARBOR—Rosina M. Bierbaum, acting director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, has been recommended as the new dean of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE). U-M President Lee C. Bollinger and Provost Nancy Cantor made the announcement today (May 16).

Her appointment will be effective Oct. 1, pending approval by the U-M Board of Regents. Bierbaum also will be appointed as professor of natural resources and environmental policy, with tenure.

Bierbaum has been acting director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) since Jan. 20 of this year. She previously served as the associate director for environment in the OSTP (
“Dr. Bierbaum’s experience working with environmental science and policy at the national level will be of enormous value to the School,” Cantor said in announcing the appointment. “She has a remarkably broad command of the environmental landscape. Her intelligence and expertise are perfectly suited to the interdisciplinary scholarly and educational profile of SNRE. Dr. Bierbaum will lead the School superbly in expanding collaborative activity, both on our campus and nationally and internationally.”

“We are delighted that Dr. Bierbaum has accepted this deanship,” said Bollinger. “In her roles as policy analyst and senior science adviser in Washington, she has worked tirelessly to advance sound environmental policy based on scientific values. Her energy and commitment will surely infect faculty and students within the School and throughout the University.”

Bierbaum worked closely with the President’s National Science and Technology Council and co-chaired its Committee on Environmental and Natural Resources. She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program at the Department of Defense, and serves as the OSTP liaison to the National Ocean Research Leadership Council. She was the head of the U.S. delegation to several plenary meetings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (1996-2001).

“Coming home to the academic world as dean of SNRE and faculty member at this world-class university is indeed an honor and privilege,” Bierbaum said. “For two decades, I left scholarly life to work at the interface of science and policy as a translator, assessor, and user of knowledge. I learned a great deal about how science can serve society. Now I would like to help educate the next generation of environmental scientists, managers, and policymakers.”

Before moving to the OSTP, Bierbaum worked for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment where she was ultimately named senior associate in the Environment Program. Bierbaum has published widely in professional journals and continues to lecture frequently on natural resources management and global change. Among her publications are recent articles in “Ecological Applications” and “Natural Resources and Environment” and the 1993 two-volume report, “Preparing for an Uncertain Climate” which outlines a sustainable development strategy for the United States.

Bierbaum is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and serves on the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable of the National Academy of Sciences. Her awards include the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Protection Award (1999) and the Waldo E. Smith Medal (2000) from the American Geophysical Union in recognition of her extraordinary service to geophysics.

Bierbaum received a B.S. in biology and a B.A. in English from Boston College, and a Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from the State University of New York, Stony Brook in 1985.

“Rosina Bierbaum is a superb choice to be the next dean of SNRE,” said J. David Allan, professor of conservation biology and chair of the search advisory committee. “Dr. Bierbaum combines an unusually broad grasp of environmental science issues with a deep understanding of how science issues translate into policy options. She brings enormous expertise and credibility.”

In welcoming the incoming dean, Barry Rabe, interim dean and professor of environmental policy, said, “Dr. Bierbaum has first-hand knowledge of the challenges inherent in developing environmental policy for the nation and the world. She contributes wisdom from the trenches as well as scholarship to help our faculty and students grapple with these issues.”

The study of natural resources and environmental issues has been a part of the University of Michigan since the 1850s. When the School of Forestry and Conservation was renamed the School of Natural Resources in 1950, it was the first in the world to expand its focus beyond forestry and traditional resource management.

With the addition of “Environment” to its title in 1992, SNRE has expanded initiatives in areas such as global climate change, spatial analysis, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and landscape ecology and design. Its research centers and programs include the Center for Sustainable Systems (CSS), Environmental Justice Program, Ecosystem Management Initiative, and Corporate Environmental Management Program (CEMP).

Through research and education, the School aims to train effective leaders, develop policies, and teach the skills necessary to manage and conserve the earth’s resources on a sustainable basis.

Office of Science and Technology PolicyBoard of RegentsNational Science and Technology CouncilOffice of Technology AssessmentAmerican Association for the Advancement of ScienceJ. David AllanBarry Rabe