Edward P. Bass Distinguished Visiting Environmental Scholars Program

The Edward P. Bass Distinguished Visiting Environmental Scholars Program was created in July 2002 with a generous gift by Edward P. Bass to YIBS.

The Bass Visiting Environmental Scholars Program brings premier scholars in any field dealing with the study of the environment, past or present, to Yale for an extended period of time. The scholars are nominated through the YIBS Faculty Affiliates, and while in residence at Yale, scholars present seminars, interact with faculty, students and research groups, and participate in the life of one or more academic units.

Dr. Rita Colwell was named as the inaugural Edward P. Bass Distinguished Visiting Environmental Scholar in the spring of 2005, and YIBS has hosted upwards of 35 scholars since then.


Current Bass Environmental Scholars

John Damuth, Ph.D.

Research description: John Damuth (Ezra Stiles, ’74) has held a Research Biologist position at the University of California, Santa Barbara, since 1988. His primary graduate training was in evolutionary biology and paleobiology, emphasizing terrestrial mammals, but he has published work on a wide variety of topics in ecology and evolution — allometry and scaling, ecological correlates of body size, multilevel selection theory, macroevolution, ecological analysis of fossil communities, ecology and functional morphology of fossil and living mammalian herbivores.

His project as a YIBS visiting scholar is the completion of a book, entitled “Nonadaptive Selection: Evolutionary Sources of Ecological Laws,” co-authored with Lev Ginzburg (Stony Brook), to be published by the University of Chicago Press. In it we argue that there is a class of selective processes in biological systems, at various levels, that do not, and cannot result in adaptation to local conditions. Such processes act to remove unstable internal configurations and are of particular importance in generating and maintaining structural regularities in systems at the community level and above.

Fellowship dates: September 2019 - August 2020

Susan Mazer

Research description: Professor Mazer (Pierson, ’81) has been on the faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara since 1987.  Her research spans a range of approaches to the study of the process and outcome of natural selection on reproductive traits in plants.  These approaches include the application of quantitative genetics, artificial selection, phenotypic selection in wild populations, pollination biology, machine learning, and specimen-based research to the study of adaptation within and among wild angiosperm species.  

During her sabbatical at YIBS, she is examining the effects of historical and contemporary climate conditions on the evolution of seed size and flowering time (phenology) at a variety of scales, from detailed studies of iconic California wildflower species (in the genera StreptanthusClarkia, and Nemophila) to continent-wide studies across thousands of species in the United States. One goal is to be able to forecast the effects of upcoming climate change on the phenology of species occupying distinct habitats and climatic conditions.

Fellowship dates: September 2019 - August 2020


Past Bass Environmental Scholars

Michael Hochberg (Research Director, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, University of Montpellier, France)

Fall 2019
P. David Polly (American paleontologist and the Robert R. Shrock Professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Indiana University) Spring 2019
Mark Swilling (Distinguished Professor and Programme Coordinator: Sustainable Development in the School of Public Leadership, University of Stellenbosch and Academic Director of the Sustainability Institute) Spring 2018
Nancy Knowlton (coral reef biologist and is the Smithsonian Institution’s Sant Chair for Marine Science) Fall 2017
Robert Wallace (Director, Greater Madidi - Tambopata Landscape & Amazon Landscape Conservation Expert Wildlife Conservation Society) Spring 2017
Roy Plotnick (Professor Invertebrate Paleontology, Landscape Ecology, Statistical Methods) Spring 2017
Aaron Ellison (ecologist & environmental conservationist) Spring 2016
Ana Magdalena Hurtado (evolutionary anthropologist) Spring 2016
Julia Marton-Lefèvre (environmentalist & academic) Spring 2016
Grae Worster (fluid dynamicist) Spring 2016
Bill Weber (wildlife conservationist) Spring 2014
Jeremy Jackson (marine ecologist & paleontologist) Spring 2014
Jonathan Bloch (paleontologist) Spring 2013
Hugh Possingham (conservation biologist) Spring 2013
Carlos Jaramillo (paleobiologist & geologist) Fall 2012 & Spring 2013
Arne Mooers (evolutionary biologist) Spring 2012
Scott Wing (biologist) Spring 2012
Daniel Lashof (climate policy expert) Fall 2011
Dame Alison Richard (anthropologist & conservationist) Summer & Fall 2011
Kevin de Queiroz (zoologist) Spring 2011
Link Olson (biologist) Spring 2011
Paul Richards (anthropologist) Spring 2011
Rosemary & Peter Grant (evolutionary biologists) Fall 2010
David Fox (evolutionary paleoecologist) Spring 2010
Inez Fung (atmospheric scientist) Fall 2009 & Spring 2010
Michael Benton (paleontologist) Spring 2009
David Beerling (geobiologist) Fall 2008 & Spring 2009
Christian Koerner (botanist) Spring 2007
William Cronon (environmental historian) Spring 2007
Michael Teitelbaum (demographer) Fall 2006 & Spring 2007
Stephen Sparks (volcanologist) Fall 2006 & Spring 2007
Dorceta Taylor (sociologist) Fall 2005
Rita Colwell (environmental microbiologist) Spring 2005

About Edward P. Bass

Mr. Bass, ’67 (’68 BS), is active in business, conservation, and ranching and is a committed environmentalist. He co-founded Biosphere 2, an environmental research and conservation project near Tucson, Arizona. He is chairman of the Executive Committee of the World Wildlife Fund and founding trustee of the Philecology Trust. He serves on the executive committees of the New York Botanical Garden and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas and has been a leader in the decade-long redevelopment of downtown Fort Worth. In addition to graduating from Yale College, Mr. Bass studied at Yale’s School of Architecture from 1968-70. His service to Yale includes co-chair of the Leadership Council of the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, member and former founding chair of the YIBS External Advisory Board, and former member of the University Council and former chair of the Council Committee on the Peabody Museum. He was named Successor Trustee in 2001.