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Dr. John Harte holds a joint professorship in the Energy and Resources Group and the Ecosystem Sciences Division of the College of Natural Resources at the University of California at Berkeley. He received his PhD in Theoretical Physics at the University of Wisconsin. He completed a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at CERN in Geneva and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California. He served on the faculty at Yale University before accepting a position at UC Berkeley. John has received many awards and honors during his career, including elected fellowship to the American Physical Society and the California Academy of Sciences, a Pew Scholars Prize in Conservation and the Environment, a Guggenheim Fellowship, Phi Beta Kappa and University of Colorado Distinguished Lectureships, the Leo Szilard prize from the American Physical Society, the UC Berkeley Graduate Mentorship Award, a Miller Professorship, and a George Polk award in investigative journalism. John is here with us today to tell us about his journey through life and science.
John Harte is a physicist turned ecologist. His research interests span ecological field research, the theory of complex systems, and policy analysis. Current interests include applying insights from information theory to the analysis of complex ecosystems and empirical investigation of climate-ecosystem feedback dynamics. The Harte lab studies the effects of human actions on, and the linkages among, biogeochemical processes, ecosystem structure and function, biodiversity, and climate. Research spans a range of scales from plot to landscape to global, and utilizes field investigations and mathematical modeling. A long term goal of the group is to understand the dependence of human well being on the health of ecosystem processes. John was Assistant Professor of Physics at Yale University for 5 years before coming to UC Berkeley, and he has been at Berkeley since 1973. John has served on six National Academy of Sciences Committees and has authored over 200 scientific publications, including seven books, on topics including biodiversity, climate change, biogeochemistry, and energy and water resources. His book “Consider a Spherical Cow” is a widely used textbook on environmental modeling.