CSU professor named president-elect of Ecological Society of America

Ceci Taylor

The newly named president-elect of the Ecological Society of America, a Colorado State University climate change researcher and ecologist, wants to take the organization in an international direction.

Dennis Ojima, a CSU professor in the department of ecosystem science and sustainability, has been named president-elect of the ESA. According to its website, the ESA is an organization of ecological scientists that publishes peer-reviewed journals, newsletters, fact sheets and teaching resources. 


“It’s really a great honor,” Ojima said. “I’ve been part of the Ecological Society of America since I was a graduate student (at CSU), and they’ve been so supportive of ecological research, so to be elected as president is really quite an honor and a treat.” 

Ojima said his research has mainly revolved around ecosystem research and looking at the effects of climate change on the environment. He said this also includes the effects of land-use changes on ecosystem processes, such as emissions of nitrous oxide, and the changes in carbon dioxide in different ecosystems around the world. 

There seems to be an erosion of confidence of use of science in policymaking, especially in this country.” -Dennis Ojima, President-elect of Ecological Society of America

“Recently I’ve been working more on the adaptation to climate change and how different communities and practitioners are impacted by climate change,” Ojima said. “How their ecosystem processes are changing and how we can provide information to develop new management strategies to cope with climate change.” 

Ojima said he’s been active at CSU since he studied for and received his Ph.D. in 1987. He left for several years to work on a research project in Sweden, but he returned in 1990. According to his website, Ojima has been active in global environmental change research and assessments for 30 years.

Ojima said that during his term, since he’s done a lot of international work, he’d like to expand connections to international groups around the world who can utilize the ecological expertise within the ESA community. He also said he’d like to bring science and policymakers closer. 

“There seems to be an erosion of confidence of use of science in policymaking, especially in this country,” Ojima said. “So trying to rebuild some of the bridges between decision-makers in various policy and connecting them with key members of the Ecological Society in America.”

man sits in front of computers
Dennis Ojima, senior research scientist in the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and a professor emeritus in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, works at his computer Dec. 2. The Colorado State University professor was selected as the president-elect of the Ecological Society of America. (Megan McGregor | The Collegian)

Ojima said connecting ecological scientists and policymakers is important because ecological systems are complex, and they are undergoing a lot of changes because of human impact. He said protecting and managing ecosystem resources is critical to how the world will evolve. 

“Providing the appropriate understanding of how ecosystems work, how the type(s) of changes that humans are doing to our ecosystem services, is critical so that we can develop more sustainable practices that maintain the ecosystem services that we have,” Ojima said. 

He said that having scientific understanding and the ESA’s expertise is important to guide environmental policy in the future.

Diana Wall, an ex-president-elect of the ESA and a professor at CSU, wrote in an email to The Collegian that Ojima will make a wonderful president-elect.  


“It is terrific to hear that Dennis (Ojima) was elected as president-elect of the Ecological Society of America,” Wall wrote. “His background in national and international science and policy makes him uniquely positioned to lead ESA’s 9,000 members towards generation and promotion of ecological science and solutions.” 

Ojima said that the resources CSU provides and the ecological community at the University are some of the reasons he was elected. 

“We have a strong ecological community that really supports various activities in ESA,” Ojima said. “Just being part of this community has allowed me to prosper and succeed and got me in the position I am now. It’s truly a great place to be an ecologist.” 

Ceci Taylor can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @cecelia_twt.