Professor Chris Williams, geography, Clark University

Geography professor selected for top-level carbon research program’s science leadership group

July 10, 2017

Christopher A. Williams, associate professor at the Clark University Graduate School of Geography and adjunct associate professor of biology, will join the North American Carbon Program’s Science Leadership Group (NACP), nominated by members of the Carbon Cycle Science Interagency Working Group.

Christopher Williams measures a tree
Read more about Professor Christopher A.
Williams' research on trees and drought in
, as well as his study in Nature Climate
Change on the connections between global
warming and plant stress

Williams also was invited to serve as co-chair for the development of a high-level science implementation plan for the NACP, and he will accept this specific role in addition to his contributions to the Science Leadership Group. 

“This invitation shows the high regard in which Chris is held in the field,” said Professor Deborah G. Martin, director of the Graduate School of Geography. “His contribution will be a significant service to the field of science broadly and to climate change research in particular.”

The NACP is a multidisciplinary research program established to study how carbon cycles through ecosystems, oceans and the atmosphere and to provide tools for decision makers. An initial leadership session is set for this fall in Washington, D.C. The program states that the ultimate success of its efforts “will require an unprecedented level of coordination among a rich and diverse array of existing observational networks, monitoring sites and experimental field studies in North America and its adjacent oceans.”

Williams will help lead efforts to coordinate research programs within and across agencies, informing the solicitation, review and implementation of research proposals, providing an interface with the scientific community conducting carbon cycle research, updating needs assessments, working to secure resources for new activities and reporting results and accomplishments.

”It is an honor to have been selected for this important assignment to serve the scientific community,” Williams said. “I look forward to championing the important work being done by this collection of researchers working to understand the diverse global changes affecting the earth system today, and to find solutions that lead to a safe and healthy future.”

The NACP's mission is overseen by the Carbon Cycle Interagency Working Group, which plans, evaluates and reports on carbon cycle research funded by the U.S. government, and comprises 11 participating federal agencies and departments that support and execute U.S. Carbon Cycle Science research. Key agencies include the National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNational Institute of Standards and TechnologyNational Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationNational Science  FoundationU.S. Department of EnergyU.S. Environmental Protection AgencyU.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Williams carries many years of standout scientific scholarship to this latest leadership role in carbon cycle research. Trained as a land surface hydrologist and terrestrial ecosystem ecologist, he investigates how Earth's biosphere responds to severe drought, bark beetle outbreaks, fires, harvesting and land cover changes. At Clark, he directs the Biogeosciences Research Group.

Among his many research projects, which have totaled over $2.2 million to Clark University, he recently served as principal investigator for a project titled "Translating forest change to carbon emissions/removals linking disturbance products, biomass maps, and carbon cycle modeling in a comprehensive carbon monitoring framework," funded by NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System. His approach combines field, lab and remote sensing data with process-based modeling aimed at understanding the effects of hydroclimatic variability and disturbance. His research spans leaf to global scales, and includes regional studies in Africa, Australia and North America.

Before joining faculty in the Graduate School of Geography in 2008, Williams was a research scientist at Colorado State University’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory. He also was assistant research scientist with the Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, based in the Biospheric Sciences Branch of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.