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March 17, 2013
Diana Wall, a Colorado State University Distinguished Professor and pioneer in scientific understanding of the role of soil biodiversity in climate change, has been honored with The Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement on the 40th anniversary of the award.
The Tyler Prize is the premier international award for environmental science, environmental health and energy conferring great benefit upon mankind. Previous winners of the prize have included Jane Goodall, Thomas Lovejoy and Edward O. Wilson. Wall was nominated by Daniel Bush, a professor in the Department of Biology and vice provost for Faculty Affairs at CSU.
“Diana’s extensive research tells an incredible story of how our world is changing – and she’s helped us better understand the role we play in developing a sustainable future for our world,” said Tony Frank, president of Colorado State. “As a person, a teacher and a scientist, she is an inspiration to our students and a wonderful colleague. We congratulate Diana on her achievements and look forward to the future generations of scientists her work will help produce.”
As the winner of the Tyler Prize, Wall will receive a $200,000 cash prize and a gold medal. The prize honors exceptional foresight and dedication in the environmental sciences – qualities that mirror the prescience of the prize’s founders, John and Alice Tyler, who established it while the environmental discussion was still in its infancy.
Wall, who is an influential figure among environmental scientific policymakers, actually studies some of the globe’s tiniest animals called nematodes, microscopic worms vital to soil nutrition and biodiversity. She has spent 24 seasons in Antarctica where the worms can be studied unhindered by plants and animal life. In 2005, Wall Valley in Antarctica was named for her achievements.
Last summer, she and her colleagues wrote a Policy Forum article for Science outlining their concerns that Antarctica is experiencing dynamic human disturbances that have serious implications for the future health of this important ecosystem.
Wall served as a member of a working group of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology because her studies impact policies responding to threats to the nation’s ecosystems. She was one of only 12 people – and only four scientists – serving on the U.S. Antarctic Blue Ribbon Panel, which was led by Norm Augustine, retired chairman and chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin Corp. In February 2012, Wall and other members of the team visited the Antarctic’s Palmer Station to help the panel evaluate the future of U.S. research in Antarctica.
“I was face-to-face with climate change,” Wall said at the time. “We went to one island where there had been 15,000 pairs of Adelie penguins 30 years ago, and there are only 3,000 pairs now. It’s not only the adult penguins declining, but there are not as many chicks surviving.”
“She was an invaluable contributor to the panel’s work because of her strong knowledge of the relevant science, hands-on experience, and real-world understanding of the art of the possible in policy circles…truly a rare and highly valuable combination,” Augustine said. “Our effort would have been much less effective without her input.”
Wall is the founding director of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability (SoGES) and a professor in the Department of Biology in the College of Natural Sciences at Colorado State. She is also a senior researcher in the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory within the Warner College of Natural Resources.
“Diana’s research into the importance of soils and their nutrients is critical to our understanding of climate change, but equally as important is that students are learning from one of the top scientists in the world,” said Jan Nerger, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “She is highly deserving of this very prestigious honor.”
Wall has also been honored in the past year with the Mines Medal from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and the SCAR President’s Medal for Excellence in Antarctic Research from the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research – an interdisciplinary committee of the prestigious International Council for Science. The President’s Medal is awarded for outstanding achievement in Antarctic science and scientific advice to policymakers.
She is one of only 15 University Distinguished Professors at Colorado State, a designation reserved for faculty members who have changed the world around them with their accomplishments.
About The Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement
The Tyler Prize is awarded by the international Tyler Prize Executive Committee with the administrative support of the University of Southern California. It is one of the first international premier awards for environmental science, environmental health and energy. It was established by the late John and Alice Tyler in 1973 and has been awarded to 66 individuals and four organizations associated with world-class environmental accomplishments. Recipients encompass the spectrum of environmental concerns including environmental policy, health, air and water pollution, ecosystem disruption and loss of biodiversity, and energy resources. For more information about the Tyler Prize, go to http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/tylerprize/.
About CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability
A first for the state, the School of Global Environmental Sustainability encompasses all sustainability (society, economics and environment) education and research at Colorado State University. The school positions CSU to address the multiple challenges to global sustainability through broad-based research, curricular programs and outreach initiatives. The school’s emphases include food security, environmental institutions and governance, sustainable communities, land and water resources, biodiversity, conservation and management, climate change and energy. For more information on SoGES, go to http://sustainability.colostate.edu/.
Contact: Emily Wilmsen
Phone: (970) 491-2336