About Me

I am a Professor in the Department of Human Ecology in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and am currently a Chancellors’ Scholar.  Before arriving at Rutgers, I spent 5 years at Arizona State University as an Assistant Professor of Global Studies. I am an expert on the intersections of climate change, biodiversity conservation, and human vulnerability and adaptation to environmental change.

Currently I am serving as chapter lead on ecosystems for the Fifth US National Climate Assessment. Since 2016 I have been a US-designated lead author for reports undertaken by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES),  and have been widely featured in the media discussing climate change and biodiversity loss, including in the New York Times, Washington Post, Vox, and other outlets. I am happy to speak to the media on many topics: adaptation to climate change; biodiversity conservation policy; climate and land policy; global sustainability policy and SDGs; ecosystem services; forest carbon markets; international poverty, environment and development nexus; indigenous peoples; and environmental impacts of war and conflict. 

I was trained as an interdisciplinary environmental scientist, anthropologist and geographer at Yale University (Ph.D. in Forestry & Environmental Studies and Anthropology), Oxford University (M.Sc. in Forestry) and the University of Kansas (B.A. in Political Science). I have been a Rhodes Scholar (1993 Kansas and Wadham) and an Andrew Carnegie Fellow (2019). My research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Wenner Gren Foundation, and MacArthur Foundation, among others.

Before becoming an academic, I was an environmental advisor in the White House Office on Environmental Policy for President Bil Clinton and a legislative aide to Senator Al Gore, and worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Persian Gulf Task Force. I have been a consultant for the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program and other international agencies, as well as for NGOs working on sustainable development in Asia on such issues as mangrove reforestation, watershed management, and non-wood forest products use.

My graduate students work on many different topics, including adaptation to climate change, gender and climate change, indigenous land rights and participation in development, agricultural sustainability, biodiversity conservation policy and rewilding, small-scale gold mining and resource extraction, and urban environmental planning. What my students share in common is a critical analysis of the environmental impacts of globalization and global environmental change, and a commitment to interdisciplinary empirical research.

You can follow me on Twitter @PamMcElwee.

The best way to contact me is via email.