Biogeochemist Indy Burke named dean of Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Ingrid C. (Indy) Burke, director of the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming, will be the next dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES), President Peter Salovy announced in an email to the campus community on July 21.

Burke, who is also the Wyoming Excellence Chair of Ecology at the University of Wyoming, will join the Yale community on Oct. 1. Her initial term runs through June 30, 2021.

“Professor Burke brings to Yale significant leadership skills and a dedication to education and research,” wrote Salovey in his announcement. “A biogeochemist whose work focuses on semiarid rangelands and on the effects of land management and climate on these systems, she is a respected intellectual leader in the United States and internationally, with a particular interest in fostering interdisciplinary scholarship.”

The Haub School is among the top institutions in the western United States for research, teaching, and outreach in natural resources, and during Burke’s eight-year tenure, it has developed an international reputation. Under her direction, the school has grown dramatically in enrollment, joint degree programs, philanthropic donations, and engagement in state- and region-wide land management and policy.

“She has a personal passion for promoting diversity and inclusion that she has brought to her leadership role,” noted Salovey.

Burke earned her bachelor of science (in biology) from Middlebury College and her doctoral degree (in botany) at the University of Wyoming, beginning her career at Colorado State University in 1987 before returning to Wyoming to join its faculty in 2008. She has received extensive grant funding and published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles, chapters, books, and reports; developed undergraduate and graduate interdisciplinary environmental programs; and served on numerous committees and boards for national scientific organizations. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

When she assumes the deanship, Burke will be joined at Yale by her husband, William (Bill) Lauenroth, currently a professor in the Department of Botany at the University of Wyoming. Lauenroth is an ecologist with expertise in dryland ecosystems, climate change, and eco-hydrology. He has conducted research in the United States, South America, and Asia, and has mentored more than 30 graduate students who now are established in the field. His work examines the impact that climate change will have on drylands in the western United States. Like Burke, he is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Burke and Lauenroth have two adult children, both of whom live in the Rocky Mountain West: Amelia, who earned her B.A. in Spanish from the University of Wyoming, and Ben, who graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the search committee — Karen Seto, chair; Michelle Bell, Liza Comita, Michael Donoghue, Bradford Gentry, James Saiers, and Oswald Schmitz; and staff liaisons Jim Slattery and Martha Highsmith — for their thoughtful work to inform this outstanding appointment. And I offer twofold gratitude to Professor Saiers for his willingness to serve as acting dean of the school until Dean Burke’s arrival,” Salovey wrote, concluding:

“Please join me in welcoming Indy Burke and her family to the Yale community, and in offering her our appreciation and best wishes for success in the years to come.”