Greg Asner was the first staff scientist hired by the fledgling Department of Global Ecology in 2001. The new department grew out of over 100 years of planet research at Carnegie, including the establishment of the field of ecology, to celebrate 100 years of Carnegie science and address the pressing 21st century questions facing our planet.
Asner brought a unique approach to the discipline—he marries sophisticated satellite and airborne mapping technology with traditional gum-shoe fieldwork to develop innovative techniques to measure the Earth.
Asner has pioneered new methods for investigating tropical deforestation, degradation, ecosystem diversity, invasive species, carbon emissions, climate change, and much more. Perhaps his most innovative technology is the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO), which provides a bird’s eye view of our planet, allowing researchers to understand, in unprecedented detail, what is happening in a previously invisible ecological world. The CAO combines laser and spectral instrumentation aboard a fixed-wing aircraft to reveal an ecosystem’s chemistry, structure, biomass, and biodiversity with stunning 3-D maps allowing surveys over extensive areas in a way not possible before.
Asner received his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in environmental engineering, biogeography, and environmental biology, respectively. In 2007, Popular Science magazine selected him as one of its Brilliant Ten young scientists. In 2006, his research was designated a Science Magazine Breakthrough of the Year. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012.
In addition to his work at the interface of ecosystems, land use and climate change, Asner is heavily engaged in teaching others to use his technology for tropical forest management and conservation. His research takes his team to countries around the world, including Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Madagascar, and South Africa, to name just a few. Investigations in these areas have led to some 250 refereed publications with about 25 more in the pipeline and his results have been covered globally by the popular media. Learn more at http://globalecology.stanford.edu/labs/asnerlab/