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Stony Brook University’s New Collaborative for the Earth to be Led by Heather Lynch

Lynch headshot photo 11 10 2023

Lynch headshot photo 11 10 2023STONY BROOK, NY — November 10, 2023 — The recently announced Collaborative for the Earth at Stony Brook University will be led by Institute for Advanced Computational Science Chair and Department of Ecology & Evolution Professor Heather Lynch, who uses quantitative ecology to address pressing issues and questions related to wildlife in Antarctica in the face of climate change and human activity.

Professor Lynch will serve as the inaugural director of the Collaborative for the Earth, following an internal search conducted by Stony Brook Provost and Executive Vice President Carl Lejuez’s Office.

“Dr. Lynch has an ideal combination of experiences that make her especially well-suited to this role,” said Lejuez. “She’s a prolific and interdisciplinary researcher, a skilled public communicator, and a highly respected member of the Stony Brook community who is eager to partner across the university to harness collective strengths to address the effects of multiple crises facing the health of the planet.”

As director of the Collaborative for the Earth, Lynch will play a key role in developing the vision to help establish Stony Brook as a global leader in pursuit of solutions toward a thriving, healthy Earth. The Collaborative for the Earth looks to be an “action tank” for facilitating university-wide research, education, and public/policy engagement on global-scale environmental crises.

One of the first priorities for the Collaborative for the Earth is hosting an international forum series on Earth-system challenges designed to place Stony Brook at the forefront of thought and action, and guiding campus-wide conversations on how to maximize our potential in defining and implementing solutions to global environmental challenges.

“I am thrilled to be named the Collaborative’s inaugural director and humbled by the challenges we face as global citizens trying to address our many environmental challenges,” Lynch said. “Stony Brook University is well-positioned to lead the way forward in creative and interdisciplinary problem solving, and the enthusiasm of the faculty and students is palpable.”

Lynch’s research sits at the intersection of statistical ecology, geography, applied math, and computer science. A core part of her lab’s research activities are their efforts to understand the dynamics of Antarctic wildlife, primarily but not exclusively Antarctic penguins, in the face of climate change, fishing, and tourism.

Lynch has been awarded over $10 million in grant funding from federal (NSF, NASA), NGO (Pew Foundation) and industrial (Microsoft, National Geographic) sponsors for her work at the interface of remote sensing and computer vision and ecological theory. In 2019, she was awarded the Blavatnik National Award for Life Sciences, the world’s largest unrestricted prize for young scientists, becoming the first ecologist and the first Stony Brook faculty member ever to be awarded this honor. Other recent honors include being named a Pew Marine Conservation Fellow and an AAAS Leshner Leader Institute Public Engagement Fellows.

She has made numerous media appearances across television and print, including the New York Times, BBC News, Animal Planet, PBS, CBS, NBC, and National Geographic.

She received her A.B. in physics from Princeton University in 2000, graduating summa cum laude and receiving the American Physical Society’s LeRoy Apker Award for the best undergraduate physics thesis in the US. She completed her master’s in physics and Ph.D. in organismal and evolutionary biology at Harvard University.

Photo credit: Photo by Rolf Sjogren.

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About Stony Brook

Stony Brook University — New York’s flagship university and No. 1 public university — is going far beyond the expectations of today’s public universities. It is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system. With nearly 26,000 students, more than 2,900 faculty members, more than 200,000 alumni, a premier academic healthcare system and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs, Stony Brook is a research-intensive distinguished center of innovation dedicated to addressing the world’s biggest challenges. The university embraces its mission to provide comprehensive undergraduate, graduate and professional education of the highest quality, and is ranked as the #58 overall university and #26 among public universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges listing. Fostering a commitment to academic research and intellectual endeavors, Stony Brook’s membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places it among the top 71 research institutions in North America. The university’s distinguished faculty have earned esteemed awards such as the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. Stony Brook has the responsibility of co-managing Brookhaven National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy — one of only eight universities with a role in running a national laboratory. In 2023, Stony Brook was named the anchor institution for The New York Climate Exchange on Governors Island in New York City. Providing economic growth for neighboring communities and the wider geographic region, the university totals an impressive $7.23 billion in increased economic output on Long Island. Follow us on Facebook ( and Twitter(@stonybrooku).


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