Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia
Ph.D., Duke University, 1998
B.A., Harvard University, 1989
Deborah Lawrence, a biogeochemist and tropical ecosystem ecologist, is professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on the effects of tropical deforestation on carbon and nutrient cycling and climate. She has spent over 25 years conducting field work in Indonesia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Cameroon. She conducts interdisciplinary research with partners in economics, anthropology, geography and hydrology to understand the drivers and consequences of land use change. This work has gained her a Sustainability Science Award from the Ecological Society of America, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Jefferson Science Fellowship from the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fulbright Scholarship. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, earned her Ph.D. (botany) at Duke University, and received a B.A. (biological anthropology) from Harvard University.
In 2009, Lawrence was selected as a Jefferson Science Fellow by the National Academy of Sciences. Fellows serve for six years; the first year in residence at the U.S. Department of State, and the subsequent five years serving on an ad hoc basis while returning to regular university duties. In 2009-10, she served as the science advisor on forests and climate in the Office of Global Change. She participated in the international negotiations of the UNFCCC, supported the U.S. delegation to the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and Forest Investment Program, and was part of several inter-agency scoping missions on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. She also served as the point of contact for the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) with a focus on the Forest Carbon Task. She consulted with the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Forest Service and Department of the Treasury on issues regarding the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, mission program development for sustainable landscapes and congressional issues relating to tropical forests.
Since 2010, Lawrence has consulted for the U.S. Forest Service and the Climate Office of USAID on scientific and technical aspects of forest carbon measurement and monitoring under SilvaCarbon, the U.S. contribution to GEO and the Global Forest Observations Initiative.
In 2011, she was a visiting scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) with whom she has continued to collaborate on greenhouse gas emissions from conversion of tropical peat swamp forest to oil palm plantations.