William Schlesinger

William Schlesinger

Past Chair 2012 - 2014
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Dr. Schlesinger is President Emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. He served as the founding Governing Council Chair from 2012 to 2014.

Before coming to the Institute, he served in a dual capacity at Duke University, as both the James B. Duke Professor of Biogeochemistry and Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences.

He earned a Ph.D. from Cornell University and an A.B. from Dartmouth College. Dr. Schlesinger has been investigating the link between environmental chemistry and global climate change for over 30 years.

His recent work focuses on understanding how trees and soil influence atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Dr. Schlesinger was among the first to quantify the amount of carbon held in soil organic matter globally, providing subsequent estimates of the role of soils and human impacts on forests and soils in global climate change.

He is the author of the textbook Biogeochemistry: An analysis of global change (Academic Press, 2nd ed. 1997). He has published editorials and columns in the Charlotte Observer, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Raleigh News and Observer.

He was elected a member of The National Academy of Sciences in 2003, and was President of the Ecological Society of America for 2003-2004. He is also a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Geophysical Union, the Soil Science Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has testified before U.S. House and Senate Committees on a variety of environmental issues, including preservation of desert habitats, global climate change and carbon sequestration. Dr. Schlesinger currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (New York), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC; New York), and the Southern Environmental Law Center (Charlottesville) and on the Board of Scientific Advisors for Terrapass LLC (San Francisco).