We live at the intersection of two unprecedented ages. The first is of information and ubiquitous computing. The second is the Anthropocene – a new geological age characterized by exponentially negative and rapid impacts of human activities on earth’s nature systems. I leverage the architecture of the information age to counter the Anthropocene.
I am a scientist at Microsoft Research where I work on computational techniques for monitoring, modeling, and managing earth’s natural environments. In 2015 I co-founded the Nature + Computing group, a diverse collection of scientists drawn from Microsoft Research who develop and apply the tools of data science to scientific data and whose research interests are focused on the study of nature.
I am committed to using the tools of computer science to tackle some of the hardest challenges in environmental sustainability, including conserving biodiversity, ensuring robust food systems, and mitigating climate change. I lead Microsoft Research’s engagements on environmental sustainability, and my work includes aspects of what makes Microsoft Research so special – from artificial intelligence and machine learning to software and hardware development.
Advisory Roles, Partnerships, Fellowships, Awards
I developed and lead Microsoft’s partnership with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, serving on the IUCN Red List Committee and chairing the Red List Informatics Working Group. I am a member of the Ecological Society of America’s US steering committee for the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and serve on the Strategic Advisory Council for NatureServe, the External Advisory Board for the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, and the United States Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment. I have previously served in advisory roles for the European Biodiversity Observation Network, the Global Environmental Facility, and for Natural England and as the ‘Advisor on Science and Innovation’ at the United Nations Environmental Program – World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC).
I am currently an Honorary Conservation Fellow at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and am a past Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Kent’s Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology (DICE) . In 2013 I received the Society for Conservation Biology’s ‘Early Career Award’, and in 2015 shared their ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ with all the past and present members of the IUCN Red List Committee.
I co-founded the Technology for Nature initiative, an early online effort with a mission to rapidly scale up the global conservation response through technology innovations and have been involved in many subsequent efforts to do just that.
I hold a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, completed my PhD in Ecology from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and am a former Peace Corps volunteer (Malawi).
Click here for Free and Open Access to Recent Science Policy Forum ‘Filling in biodiversity threat gaps’ by Joppa et al.
A Prediction Engine for the Planet – MSRC ResearchNext Keynote
Technology for Nature – 2013 MSRC ResearchNext
Geo-Database Applications at the Speed of Thought – 2013 MSRC ResearchNext Demo (Piero Visconti)
New Tools for Environmental Science – MSR Connections Lecture (starts at 00:02:30)
Troubling Trends in the Use of Scientific Software (Science Magazine podcast, starts at 00:13:00)
AI for Earth (The Guardian)
Beware the Black Box of Scientific Software (Scientific Computing Magazine)
Protect a sixth of the land, protect two thirds of the species (The Conversation)
Electronic Eyes in the Wild (Rolex Awards)
A Wild Success: The Endangered Species Act at 40 (link takes you to book download)
Catching up with… (UW Madison CALS Magazine)
Microsoft Media Coverage
Microsoft News Center – Research predictions for 2016 and 2026
Microsoft News Center – Conservation in the Cloud
Microsoft Fire Hose – Royal Visit
Microsoft Fire Hose – Aichi Targets
Microsoft Enterprise Insights – Mapping Endangered Species
Science @ Microsoft – How many species?
Inside Microsoft Research – MSR Luminaries
Inside Microsoft Research – Royal Society
Inside Microsoft Research – Aichi Targets
Inside Microsoft Research – Animal Tracking
Inside Microsoft Research – IUCN Partnership