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In Memoriam

Lourdes Gautier joined the Columbia community in 2000 working in the Political Science department before becoming the first DAAF of the then brand new Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology in the Fall of 2001. This was shortly after 9/11, and despite the excitement of founding a new department at Columbia, the world seemed like an uncertain place. Lourdes’ reassuring competence and good humor were especially appreciated during this time, and remained hallmarks of her work in the department. She put an enormous amount of effort into the new department, which had (at the time) no set ways of doing anything. She really got the department “up and running,” and led it cheerfully. Throughout her time at Columbia, she was known as a fierce advocate for the students and faculty members of E3B. Lourdes ran the department with much grace and aplomb until her retirement in 2019. She will be deeply missed by the students, faculty, staff, and administrators who had the pleasure to work with her.

SynThesis 1

Congratulations to E3B MA student Myles Davis who won 3rd place at the GSAS Master’s SynThesis competition!

On May 2, 2023, twelve Columbia GSAS Master’s students competed in the GSAS Master’s SynThesis competition. This competition consists of taking a topic that you’ve been researching and thinking about for over a year, and presenting it to the general public in a three-minute talk, with just one visual slide and no notes to help you. Myles (second from left) spoke about human and wildlife activity in NYC during COVID. You can watch his presentation HERE.


E3B PhD student Marie Lilly from the Diuk-Wasser Eco-epidemiology Lab got to go on set of the Today Show yesterday morning and set up deer tick specimens that the lab collected for a segment about ticks and tick-borne disease! You can watch the full segment on ‘How to protect yourself — and your pets — during tick season’ HERE.

You can also check out the Tick App ( for more information about ticks and tick-borne disease, to report your tick encounters, and to help further Eco-epidemiology lab research efforts!

E3B MA student Emma Lauterbach was tasked by Professor Claudia Dreifus to “write a letter to the editor and send it off.”

Emma did that and it was published in the New York Times!

To read Emma’s letter, please click HERE. Congratulations Emma!

Photo, left to right: Mary C. Boyce, Ruth DeFries, Jennifer Crewe, Adam D. Reich.

Congratulations to E3B Professor Ruth DeFries on winning the Columbia University Press Distinguished Book Award!!⁣

Columbia University Press, in conjunction with the Office of the Provost, is pleased to announce that What Would Nature Do? A Guide for Our Uncertain Times by Ruth DeFries is the winner of the eighth annual Columbia University Press Distinguished Book Award.

Ruth DeFries is a Co-Founding Dean of the Columbia Climate School; University Professor; and Denning Family Professor of Sustainable Development in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology.

The Columbia University Press Distinguished Book Award is given to the Columbia University faculty member whose book published by the Press in the two years prior brings the highest distinction to Columbia University and Columbia University Press for its outstanding contribution to academic and public discourse. The winner is selected by the Distinguished Book Award jury, which is composed of current members of the Press’s Faculty Publication Committee.

In presenting the award, Professor Adam Reich, chair of the Distinguished Book Award jury and chair of the Press’s Faculty Publication Committee, commented, “DeFries weaves together a highly readable book that approaches our contemporary complex, and potentially failing, society with a spirit of curiosity and pragmatism. Rather than using natural sciences to tell us why our social world can’t be changed, she uses the natural world as a source of inspiration for how we might get out of the various muddles we’ve gotten ourselves into.”

Congratulations to E3B’s very own Professor Matthew Palmer for being selected as one of the recipients of the 2022 Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching!

Dr. Palmer teaches and advises students in several programs, including E3B’s undergraduate, postbaccalaureate, and graduate programs and in the Environmental Science and Policy program in the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). He teaches courses in botany, forest ecology, urban ecology, herpetology, and research methods, often with extensive field and laboratory components. His research includes measuring ecosystem functions in forests, wetlands, and cities, the management of natural areas, and the conservation of biological diversity. He finds great joy in teaching and in helping students to see the natural world with a fresh perspective and to better understand the connections between nature and humanity.

“His course on botany has fundamentally altered the way I look at the world around me. I find myself walking a little more slowly on my way to campus from my dorm every day, just to take a look at the plants around me. Every day I come away with a greater appreciation of Columbia’s campus and the city around me.”—Diego Plaza Homiston (CC’23)

Congratulations Matt on this wonderful, well-deserved achievement!

More From the Field

News & Updates

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E3B Professor Ruth DeFries has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering! She is recognized for elucidating anthropogenic land-use change impacts on environmental sustainability, […] Read More

The Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology at Columbia University is committed to the ethical pursuit of knowledge, and the responsible stewardship of that […] Read More

 E3B alum, and current RGGS student, Aless Vecino Gazabon, is on a recent paper making news. Check it out here: Scientists reconstruct extinct ape’s damaged […] Read More

A new study by E3B PhD student Erich Eberhard was quoted in the Winter 2022-23 Columbia Magazine! You can read ‘Can We Act Sooner to […] Read More

E3B PhD student Pallavi Kache was profiled for Columbia News in December! To read more about Pallavi’s research on how cities can stop the proliferation […] Read More

Dr. Eleanor J. Sterling (1960 – 2023) – In Memoriam Eleanor Sterling, longtime colleague and beloved member of the E3B community, passed away on February […] Read More

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