University of Wisconsin–Madison │ Madison, Wisconsin
For her contributions to our understanding of how changes in large-scale patterns associated with natural processes, such as forest fires, and human activities, such as urbanization, can affect not only ecological systems but also the social and economic well-being of society.
The tools ecologist Monica Turner uses in her research are unusual, including bear repellent, a bicycle-mounted weather station, protective eyewear, canoe, compass, and the occasional helicopter. With such tools and more traditional scientific gear, Turner has confronted wildfire, dense forest, and the urban jungle. Turner’s work was critical in establishing the field of landscape ecology, which focuses on broad-scale ecological and environmental change. Another key to her approach has been the integration of human impact into ecological studies. Her work, published in more than 275 research articles, has provided 30 years of insights on forest recovery following the 1988 Yellowstone National Park fires and helps us understand how humans and urbanization alter ecosystem dynamics. Turner has given scientists with new understandings and novel methods for tackling the great ecological problem of our age—climate change.