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Interview with Patricia Werner, August 13, 2014

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:55 - Early life / Education

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Partial Transcript: So Pat, would you start please by describing to us briefly some of the reasons why you started to pursue a career in ecology and where it lead?

Segment Synopsis: Werner talks about what influenced her to go into the field of ecology and says that she had a great biology teacher in high school who influenced her to major in biology at Michigan State. She discusses taking her first ecology course with John Cantlon and deciding that she wanted to get her Ph.D with him. She also talks about working at the Kellogg Biological Research Station with Cantlon and studying teasel plants.

Keywords: Ecologia; John Harper; Richard Moore; William E. Cooper; botany; colonizing species; zoology

00:09:31 - Post-graduate work / Working in Australia

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Partial Transcript: Okay, what transpired next?

Segment Synopsis: Werner talks about teaching a course for a year with Erik Goodman at Michigan State that taught both ecology and mathematical modeling. She left to do a post-doc in Iowa for a year, and then she was rehired at Michigan State where she stayed until 1986 when she left to work in Darwin, Australia where she studied the effects of disturbances on tree populations in the tropics.

Keywords: CSIRO; Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Herman Koenig; Kakadu national park; NSF funding; RAND program; William Cooper; drought; fire; flood; forest service; system science

00:16:13 - NSF Division Director

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Partial Transcript: Then you moved on to NSF for a two year term.

Segment Synopsis: Werner discuses her time as the National Science Foundation (NSF) division director. She talks about how she was able to help the Ecological Society of America (ESA) during this time by encouraging the NSF to support the Sustainable Biosphere Initiative (SBI) financially.

Keywords: American Chemical Society; Eric Block; Hal Mooney; Jane Lubchenco; John Brooks; Mary Clutter; Washington D.C; discretionary funding; marine sciences; organizational structure; proof of concept workshops

00:26:27 - University of Florida / Research Methods

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Partial Transcript: Back to a little more discussion about your research.

Segment Synopsis: Werner discusses her job at the University of Florida, saying that it was too administrative, so she went back to Australia to do more research. She also discusses her research methods and says that she has always been a "field experimenter person."

Keywords: Australian National University; David Lanenmayer; Ecological Monographs; Fenner School of Environment and Society; John Cantlon; Kakadu national park; William Cooper; biodiversity loss; biological hierarchy; climate change; competition; fire; saplings; shade; understory; water resources

00:34:44 - Evaluation of current ecology profession / ESA

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Partial Transcript: What's your impression of ecology today compared to what it was when you were at Michigan State?

Segment Synopsis: Werner gives her opinion about the ecology profession today, commenting on how it is less focused on biology and more on global policy issues. She also talks about her involvement in the ESA, saying that she was always encouraged to attend the meetings by her teachers and that she still travels from Australia to attend the meetings.

Keywords: John Cantlon; Steve Stephenson; William Cooper; biodiversity; biological science; biosphere; climate change; grassland ecology; plenary sessions