Jeffrey Pierce

Monfort Professor Jeff Pierce, associate professor of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University

Jeffrey Pierce, an associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science, has been named a Monfort Professor. Established by the Monfort Family Foundation, Monfort Professorships are awarded to faculty who are considered rising stars in their fields. The two-year awards help Colorado State University attract and retain talented young faculty.

Pierce joined the CSU faculty in 2013 as an assistant professor, and he was previously an assistant professor at Dalhousie University. His Ph.D. in chemical engineering is from Carnegie Mellon University, and he also holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from Northeastern University.

One of the world’s leading modelers of atmospheric airborne particles, Pierce is a widely sought-after collaborator for U.S. and international research projects. Pierce’s expertise is in the impacts of atmospheric particles on human health and climate. Human-generated atmospheric particles are among the most uncertain areas for accurate predictions of global climate. His work has examined how changes in atmospheric aerosols affect the Earth’s climate by interacting with the sun and the Earth’s radiation, and by modifying clouds.

The author or co-author of more than 90 peer-reviewed articles in leading journals, Pierce has secured in excess of $8 million in sponsored research funding throughout his time at CSU. He has also worked actively with other researchers across campus, including through the Office of the Vice President for Research-sponsored Partnership for Air Quality, Climate and Health (PACH). Through his work with PACH, Pierce and colleagues have estimated that airborne particles lead to approximately 3 million premature deaths around the world every year.

Pierce is furthermore an accomplished and respected teacher. Among his many contributions are the development of a new course for training atmospheric scientists in the field, and the redesign of the department’s Intro to Air Pollution course.

“It is hard to overstate the highly positive impact Jeff has had on the Department of Atmospheric Science, on the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, on the CSU Partnership for Air Quality, Climate and Health, and on CSU as a whole,” wrote atmospheric science department chair Jeffrey Collett, in nominating Pierce for the Monfort Professorship. “He is an exceptional colleague to faculty from many parts of campus, an outstanding adviser, and a dedicated member of many graduate student committees. Jeff is a collegial, humble, and thoughtful member of the CSU faculty.”

George Wittemyer

head shot of researcher George Wittemyer

George Wittemyer, an associate professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology who is recognized as a world-renowned expert on elephant conservation, has been named a Monfort Professor, one of CSU’s highest honors.

He began studying elephants and the effects of poaching on them when he was an undergraduate at Colorado College in the 1990s. After graduating from college, he received a coveted fellowship through the Fulbright Program, which took him to Kenya in 1997, where he met Iain Douglas-Hamilton, one of the preeminent elephant biologists in the world and founder of Save the Elephants.

Douglas-Hamilton helped Wittemyer land an internship with the Kenya Wildlife Service, which led the researcher to the Samburu National Reserve, a rugged and semi-desert park in Kenya.

From 1997 to 2007, Wittemyer lived primarily in Samburu, where he launched a project to identify every elephant that came into the park. With the Save the Elephants field team, he continues to monitor these elephants to this day, following them and recording the ups and downs of their lives.

Wittemyer has testified about his research on Capitol Hill and is among a group of scientists who have joined a coalition of concerned citizens, activists, nongovernmental organizations, politicians and governments whose aim is to stop the killing of elephants, and the trafficking and demand for ivory.

He is highly sought after by top U.S.-based and international media outlets to talk about these topics. Earlier this year, he was interviewed about China’s ivory ban and effects on poaching in Africa on National Public Radio‘s “All Things Considered.”

Wittemyer, who has a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, was described as a “rising star” by Ken Wilson, professor and department head, in his nomination letter.

“Dr. Wittemyer has developed into a brilliant scholar, whose faculty research productivity has been exceptional,” he said. “As his publication record will attest, Dr. Wittemyer has established a superb research program that has generated incredible recognition, especially for his work with African elephant conservation. But, his research goes beyond the scientific and is touching people and livelihoods, and generating the kind of outreach that exemplifies the land-grant mission.”

His research findings have been published in top journals, including Science, where he has had a paper published each year over the last three years. Based on a media analysis, a 2017 study he co-authored on the effects of noise pollution in U.S. protected areas reached 1.9 billion viewers, listeners and readers, and had an advertising equivalency of $3.7 million.

Wittemyer has secured more than $6 million in external funding during his time at CSU, serving as a principal investigator on 22 projects. He also teaches undergraduate and graduate students about wildlife management, conservation of large mammals and conservation biology research.

Wittemyer serves as the chair of Save the Elephants’ scientific board, a testament to his expertise. He is also a technical advisor on elephants for the Kenya Wildlife Service and a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s African Elephants Specialist Group.

The Monfort Professor designation comes with a monetary award of $75,000 a year over the next two years to support Wittemyer’s internationally-recognized research.