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Deborah Lawrence, Ph.D., is a Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on the links between tropical deforestation and climate change. She has spent the past twenty-five years doing field-based research in Indonesia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Cameroon. Most recently, she has been using global climate models to explore the cumulative effect of tropical land use decisions, exploring the climate impact of land allocation among food crops, biofuels and forests across the globe. Professor Lawrence and her students conduct interdisciplinary research with partners in hydrology, atmospheric science, economics, anthropology, ethics, engineering, and law to understand the drivers and consequences of land use change. This work has gained her a Sustainability Science Award from the Ecological Society of America, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Jefferson Science Fellowship from the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fulbright Scholarship. She was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University, earned her Ph.D. (Botany) at Duke University, and received a B.A. (Biological Anthropology) from Harvard University. Current research addresses the challenge of understanding and minimizing climate impacts from forest use in the tropics and around the globe.
In 2009-2010, Professor Lawrence served as Science Advisor in the Office of Environment and Global Change and the Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change at the US Department of State. Focusing on tropical forests and climate change, she participated in the international negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), supported the US delegation to the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and Forest Investment Program, and was part of several inter-agency missions on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. She also served as the point of contact for the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) with a focus on the Forest Carbon Task. She worked with State, US Agency for International Development, US Forest Service and Department of the Treasury on issues regarding the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, mission program development for the sustainable landscapes program, and congressional issues relating to tropical forests.
Since 2010, Professor Lawrence has been consulting with the International Programs Office of the US Forest Service and the Climate Change Office of USAID on scientific and technical aspects of forest carbon measurement and monitoring under SilvaCarbon, the US contribution to the Global Forest Observation Initiative under GEO. In 2011, she was a visiting scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor, Indonesia where she worked on minimizing the climate impacts of oil palm expansion with partners at World Resources Institute, Sekala Indonesia, and the Climate and Land Use Alliance.