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Institute Associate Director to receive award from ESA

By: Tom Venesky, on Friday, November 2, 2012

 With a glut of important environmental challenges facing today’s policy makers – shale gas drilling, biodiversity, climate change and farmland preservation among them – Wilkes University biology professor Kenneth Klemow feels it’s time that ecologists have a voice at the table.

Last week, Klemow learned he’ll be one of those voices when he was named a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America.

He is among the first group of scientists to be awarded the prestigious designation, granted to members who have made outstanding contributions to a wide range of fields served by the society. It recognizes Klemow’s extensive work in the fields of ecology and ecology education.

Klemow said the recognition, which comes two years after he received the society’s Eugene P. Odum Award for Excellence in Ecology Education, puts ecologists at the front of the line when it comes to being involved in the decision-making process.

“Whenever policy makers look to assemble a team of scientists to address a certain issue, they’ll look to a society to see who the Fellows are,” Klemow said. “I’m excited. I think the Ecological Society did this because people who are Fellows in all disciplines can serve on various panels that influence decisions.”

As a Fellow, Klemow joins a group of distinguished scientists and environmental researchers. They include such luminaries as Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich, author of “Population Bomb” and president of Stanford’s Center for Conservation Biology; Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and E.O. Wilson of Harvard University, world-class researcher on biodiversity and global environmental change.

The Kingston resident has been with Wilkes since 1982 and founded the Ecological Society’s education section, serving as its first chairman in 1988. He also serves as director of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research for Northeastern Pennsylvania.

As far as his specific areas of expertise, if called upon, Klemow listed education, energy, mine reclamation and wetlands.

“One of the things I’m really concerned about is all the recent discussion we’ve been having over energy issues,” Klemow said. “It’s dysfunctional discussion in which people just want to insult those who don’t agree, and that comes from both sides. I want to elevate the conversation by using science, find ways to move past that and find places where two sides can agree.”

Klemow is encouraged there will be more emphasis placed on education and communication because the list of Fellows includes several educators, in addition to scientists who are known strictly for research.

It’s a shift that began in the late 1980s, Klemow said, when a focus was placed on making science more relevant. That led to a surge in promoting education and policy development in science.

Contact Person: Tom Venesky 
Contact Email: tvenesky@timesleader.com