Deborah Lawrence

Professor, Environmental Sciences
Deborah Lawrence studies the effects of tropical deforestation on ecosystems, climate and humanity, and she teaches about climate change. Prof. Lawrence has conducted research in Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Cameroon and the Great Lakes region of Africa. She works with partners in environmental science and geography, ethics, anthropology and politics, economics, urban planning and public health to understand the impacts of global land use decisions on climate and how those impacts feed back on the life support system that is our earth. Ultimately, she and her colleagues want to understand the consequences of land use and climate change for humanity—including water, food, and GDP, but extending to a broader notion of well-being. Prof. Lawrence’s research has earned 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. Prof. Lawrence spent a year as a scientific advisor in the climate office of the US Department of State under President Obama, followed by five years as a founding member of SilvaCarbon, an interagency program of the US government on forests and climate. Her favorite extracurricular is ‘Write climate,’ a project that uses art to communicate science, engage the public and build community around climate action. In two years, 90 students connected with 2700 members of the UVA community and then created public art to share with countless others. This year they are working with 80 9th graders at Charlottesville High School. When she’s not working on a better climate future, she enjoys tending her garden, hiking in the woods, and spending time with her husband and two children.

TEDx talk:

Write climate project

Forests and Climate

UVA’s Deborah Lawrence On Food, Fuels and Forests