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Building Resilience to Climate Change

iSEE Congress 2017

Sept. 18-20, 2017

Alice Campbell Alumni Center

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


About the Congress

The purpose of this year’s iSEE Congress is to assemble leading national and international scientists from different disciplines to advance scientific understanding on the impacts of climate change on the agricultural sector, on ecosystem services, and on human livelihoods and wellbeing, particularly among the most vulnerable sections of society. The Congress will foster critical thinking not only on the challenges posed by climate change, but also on the areas for further research and institutional development to adapt to it. The event will provide a forum to discuss the near- and medium-term options for building resilience to climate change and policy directions that could contribute to long-term solutions.

Our previous iSEE Congresses on other grand challenges facing society have been attended by more than 300 faculty, students, and others from across campus each year.

iSEE Congress 2017 is supported by generous funding from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a symposium in recognition of the Illinois Sesquicentennial — “The Research University at 150: Celebrating the History and the Future of Interdisciplinary Research at Illinois.”

The organizing committee included iSEE Associate Director Madhu Khanna and Illinois faculty members Elizabeth Ainsworth, Brian Allan, Jeffrey Brawn, Carla Cáceres, Don Fullerton, Atul Jain, Stephen P. Long, Sarah Taylor Lovell, Jesse Ribot, and Gillen D’Arcy Wood.


Venue, Parking, and Travel

About the Congress

The purpose of this year’s iSEE Congress is to assemble leading national and international scientists from different disciplines to advance scientific understanding on the impacts of climate change on the agricultural sector, on ecosystem services, and on human livelihoods and wellbeing, particularly among the most vulnerable sections of society. The Congress will foster critical thinking not only on the challenges posed by climate change, but also on the areas for further research and institutional development to adapt to it. The event will provide a forum to discuss the near- and medium-term options for building resilience to climate change and policy directions that could contribute to long-term solutions.

Our previous iSEE Congresseson on other grand challenges facing society have been attended by more than 300 faculty, students, and others from across campus each year.

iSEE Congress 2017 is supported by generous funding from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a symposium in recognition of the Illinois Centennial — “The Research University at 150: Celebrating the History and the Future of Interdisciplinary Research at Illinois.”

The organizing committee included iSEE Associate Director Madhu Khanna and Illinois faculty members Elizabeth Ainsworth, Brian Allan, Jeffrey Brawn, Carla Cáceres, Don Fullerton, Atul Jain, Stephen P. Long, Sarah Taylor Lovell, Jesse Ribot, and Gillen D’Arcy Wood.


Venue, Parking, and Travel

Registration has closed!


The Congress kicks off on the evening of Sept. 18 with a keynote from John Holdren, Former Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The following two days are packed with presentations from local and world scholars diagnosing our future in a new climate and strategies for mitigating and adapting to the planet-wide warming trend.

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Speakers & Panelists

Listed in alphabetical order:

Arun Agrawal

University of Michigan

Session IV: “Adapting to Climate Change,” 3:15-5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

Presentation title: “Everyday Adaptations to Climate Risks: How Well Do Climate Policies Take into Account What People Do?”

Abstract: Anthropogenic climate change is recent; human adaptation is as old as humanity itself. Understanding how to adapt to current and future climate risks requires both an understanding of the nature of unfolding climate changes, and the range of ways in which human societies have adapted and continue to adapt to past and contemporary climate-related stresses. Societal inertia makes it particularly important to craft future-oriented adaptation strategies on the basis of ongoing everyday adaptations. We use evidence on adaptation strategies rooted in distinct socio-economic organizational forms to identify and characterize a suite of adaptation strategies that enable households and communities to address climate risks effectively. Such everyday adaptations, we suggest, can serve as the bedrock of future adaptation planning.

Bio: Agrawal, the Samuel Trask Dana Professor of Natural Resources & Environment at Michigan, emphasizes the politics of international development, institutional change, and environmental conservation in his research and teaching. He has written critically on indigenous knowledge, community-based conservation, common property, population resources, and environmental identities. Agrawal is the coordinator for the International Forestry Resources and Institutions network and is currently carrying out research in central and east Africa as well as South Asia. Since 2013, Agrawal has served as the editor-in-chief of World Development and his recent work has appeared in Science, PNAS, Conservation Biology, Development and Change, among other journals. Preceding his work at Michigan, Agrawal received a B.A. in History at Delhi University, an M.B.A. at the Indian Institute of Management, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science at Duke University and has held teaching and research positions at Yale, Florida, McGill, University of California Berkeley, and Harvard.

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Brian Allan

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Session III: “Land Use and Ecosystem Impacts of Climate Change,” 1:30-3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

Presentation title: “Potential Consequences of Climate Change for Infectious Disease Dynamics”

Abstract: Despite widespread scientific and media interest in the impacts of climate change on human health, studies have been relatively scarce that directly connect climate change to altered infectious disease transmission dynamics. Early work in this field focused on incorporating climate parameters into mathematical predictions of infectious disease transmission, generating a range predictions. At present, increasingly sophisticated theoretical and now empirical studies are emerging, many of which indicate geographic and temporal shifts in the distribution of environmentally-transmitted infectious diseases are likely. These changes in infectious disease transmission are occurring via a variety of biological mechanisms, including shifting distributions of hosts and vectors, as well as changing human demographics and vulnerabilities under climate change. A primary impact of climate change may be that infectious disease transmission dynamics will become more unpredictable, complicating efforts to prevent or mitigate human illness. A successful response will require collaboration among a diversity of scientific fields to prevent significant public health impacts.

Bio: Allan is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Illinois. His scientific research combines interests in the ecology of infectious diseases, conservation biology, and the influence of global change on human and animal health. His primary research interest is in understanding the consequences of anthropogenic change to ecosystems on the abundance, distribution, and behavior of wildlife that influence the transmission of vector-borne diseases to humans. His studies are conceptually linked through the phenomenon of changes in disease risk resulting from human activities that cause climate change, habitat loss and reductions in biodiversity. Allan’s research laboratory investigates the consequences of anthropogenic change for a diversity of vector-borne disease systems, including tick-borne diseases in East Africa, Panama, and the Midwestern United States, mosquito-borne diseases — particularly West Nile Virus — in the U.S., and triatomine-borne Chagas disease in Central America. A focus of recent research is the “invasion ecology” of vector-borne pathogens, including Lyme disease in the U.S. and Zika virus in the Americas. Allan investigates vector-borne disease invasions from the perspective of fundamental ecological processes, including the effects of landscape and habitat configuration on the probabilities of pathogen introduction and establishment.

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Amy W. Ando

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Session II: “Vulnerability of Agriculture and Ecosystems to Climate Change,” 10:30 a.m.-noon Tuesday, Sept. 19

Presentation title: “Conservation Planning in the Face of Climate Change”

Abstract: Climate change poses an existential threat to many species and ecosystem services, and uncertainty about climate change scenarios makes it hard for conservation scientists to know what future they should plan for. Risk averse decision makers benefit from conservation planning tools that find conservation strategies with less risk in their future total values. Previous research has found that Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) can be adapted from finance to optimize spatial conservation targeting and reduce outcome risk with minimal loss of expected level of ecological benefits. However, no work has identified the types of spatial conservation cases for which the application of MPT will yield the greatest benefit. Our team assembled three distinct ecological spatial data sets from North America and evaluated the effectiveness of MPT as a prioritization tool in 26 widely different conservation cases. We found MPT is useful in a wide range of reserve selection cases, and works best when: (1) regions have negatively correlated outcomes across climate scenarios; (2) a second-best region has expected conservation returns almost as good as the returns in the best region; or (3) one or more regions have little uncertainty in ecological outcomes across climate scenarios.

Bio: Ando is a Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at Illinois. She earned a B.A. in economics from Williams College in 1990 and a Ph.D. in economics from M.I.T. in 1996. Before joining Illinois, she worked as a Fellow at Resources for the Future, where she now serves as a University Fellow. Ando’s research focuses primarily on the economics of species and habitat conservation. That work includes research to inform optimal conservation planning, understand actual conservation behavior, improve aquatic habitat through better stormwater management policy, and develop planning tools reduce the uncertainty in conservation outcomes from climate change. Her research has been funded by grants from sources including the NSF, EPA, and USDA-NIFA and has been published in Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, and numerous other scholarly journals and books. Ando has served as a handling editor for three major journals in her field, worked on review panels for the NSF, and provided expert advisory service to agencies and NGOs including EPA, USDA, the City of Chicago, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

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Jim Angel

State Climatologist, Illinois State Water Survey, Prairie Research Institute

Session VII: “Panel on Public-Private Actions to Adapt to Climate Change,” 10:30 a.m.-noon Wednesday, Sept. 20

Bio: Angel has been the Illinois State Climatologist since 1997. He began working at the Illinois State Water Survey, a Division of the Prairie Research Institute, in 1984. His areas of interest include drought, extreme rainfall events, Great Lakes storms, past and potential future climate change, and climate tool development. As State Climatologist, he works with a range of users, including farmers, teachers, engineers, state and local officials, and the media. Angel has B.S. (1982) and M.S. (1984) degrees in atmospheric science from the University of Missouri and earned his Ph.D. (1996) in Geography at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Maximilian Auffhammer

University of California Berkeley

Session II: “Vulnerability of Agriculture and Ecosystems to Climate Change,” 10:30 a.m.-noon Tuesday, Sept. 19

Presentation title: “Regional Crop Diversity and Weather Shocks in India”

Abstract: Food production and hence farmer welfare are highly vulnerable to climatic variability particularly in the developing world, where fewer insurance mechanisms exist to buffer farmers against weather shocks. As climate change arguably exacerbates this vulnerability by gradually raising temperatures to crop-damaging levels and increasing precipitation extremes, there has been increased focus on adaptation mechanisms for farmers and other players in the food system. Diversification is often cited as a means of reducing vulnerability to weather shocks. In particular, in the agricultural and agro-ecology literatures, crop diversification has been argued to enhance the ability of farmers and food production systems to respond to climatic variability. However, while the environmental benefits of diversification, such as enhanced biodiversity, increased carbon sequestration, and improved soil fertility have been documented, evidence of the economic returns to crop diversification is sparse. We seek to fill this gap by looking at Indian agriculture between 1956 and 1987, a time period in which agricultural diversity generally fell through increased adoption of High-Yield Varieties (HYVs) and other agricultural inputs that facilitated a transition toward more monoculture-based production systems. We use climate and agricultural price and yield data to see if district-level crop diversity is correlated with higher farm revenues in years of drought. We also explore the impacts of diversity on an agricultural price index and on agricultural yields.

Bio: Auffhammer is the George Pardee Jr. Professor of International Sustainable Development and Associate Dean in the Division of Social Sciences at Berkeley. He received his B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1996, a M.S. in Environmental and Resource Economics at the same institution in 1998 and a Ph.D. in Economics from UC San Diego in 2003. He joined the faculty at Berkeley in 2003. Auffhammer’s research focuses on environmental and resource economics, energy economics and  applied econometrics. He is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in the Energy and Environmental Economics group, a Humboldt Fellow, and a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). His research has appeared in The American Economic Review, the Review of Economic Studies, The Review of Economics and Statistics, The Economic Journal, the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, The Energy Journal and other academic journals. Auffhammer is the recipient of the 2017 Cheit Teaching Award in the Haas School of Business, the 2009 Campus Distinguished Teaching Award, the 2007 Cozzarelli Prize awarded by the National Academies of Sciences, and the 2007 Sarlo Distinguished Mentoring Award.

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Sandy Dall’erba

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Session VI: “Economic and Social Vulnerabilities to Climate Change,” 9-10:15 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20

Presentation title: “Measuring the Economic Impact of Climate Change: Recent Advances and Remaining Challenges”

Abstract: Despite the increasing popularity of econometric models assessing the impact of climate change on agriculture, few attempts have been made to examine carefully the role of spatial dependence and heterogeneity in this framework. Early studies ignored spatial dependence or, at best, treated it as part of the error terms. More recent works have included actual interregional spillovers, but they are often limited to geographical proximity. While different forms of spillovers are relevant to the impact of climate change on agriculture, this presentation focuses on two of them: interregional trade and the network of irrigated surface water flows. Applied to the U.S. case, they highlight how agriculture in one location is sensitive to weather events taking place locally, but also among trade partners and upstream neighbors. As such, an important challenge is to understand how such interregional linkages will evolve in the future. When it comes to spatial heterogeneity, the tradition has been to work on large but few groups and to rely on nonlinear models. However, more attention could be given to additional modeling techniques that explicitly account for the hierarchical nature of the data and provide place-specific marginal effects that capture better the local capacity to adapt to new climate conditions.

Bio: Dall’erba, an Associate Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at Illinois, holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pau, France. After an Assistant and Associate Professor position with tenure at the University of Arizona, he joined the University of Illinois in 2015. His research interests focus on regional science in general and economic growth, regional development policies, innovation and the economic impact of climate change in particular. In addition to the traditional estimation of the dynamics at work, he studies each of these fields by modelling and measuring the spatial interactions that take place between regions. An example would be the presence of spillover effects when regional policies are implemented to correct economic imbalances. In that purpose, he uses various tools of regional science but mostly spatial statistics, spatial econometrics and interregional input-output. He has published several articles on these topics and with those tools — some of them co-authored with his past and current graduate students — and he has been awarded various grants by NSF, NASA and USDA for his work. His research always attempts to provide a range of exposure to new curricula materials, methods of conducting interdisciplinary and international collaborative research and guidance in the preparation of material for dissemination in the public policy arena.

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Justin Gillis

New York Times

Keynote Address: Noon-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

Presentation title: “Climate Change: Where Do We Stand in 2017?”

Abstract: In Miami Beach not long ago, an octopus was found stranded on the floor of a parking garage. In Fort Lauderdale, giant vacuum trucks have to be sent out nowadays to suck salt water off the streets. In Norfolk, rulers are going up at major intersections, so people can judge how deep the water is before they drive through it. Yet even as the impacts of climate change become obvious, the political impulse to deny that anything is happening is as strong as it has ever been. How much longer can the politics of climate change remain divorced from physical reality?

Bio: Gillis is an environmental science journalist and author, with a special focus on climate change. In his recent work as a reporter for The New York Times, he authored a series called “Temperature Rising” that ran from 2010 to ’13 and updated readers on major developments in climate science, winning the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism from Columbia University. He was also the principal author in 2014 of a series called “The Big Fix” that critically examined proposed solutions to climate change, and he was part of the Times team that covered the Paris climate conference in December 2015. More recently, he traveled to Antarctica twice last year to produce a recent series of articles on the risk that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will collapse in a warming world. Gillis began as an environmental science reporter in 2010 after three years as a Times editor in charge of the paper’s energy and food coverage. He is a native of southern Georgia and a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism. Earlier in his career he worked at the Associated Press, The Miami Herald, and The Washington Post. For the latter newspaper, he covered genetics, biotechnology, and the completion of the Human Genome Project.

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Kaiyu Guan

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Session I: “Regional Climate Effects: Building Resilience,” 8:45-10:15 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

Presentation title: “Impact and Adaptation of Agroecosystems to Climate Change in the U.S. Corn Belt”

Abstract: Climate change will exert complex thermal and hydrological impacts on the agroecosystems in the U.S. Corn Belt, which currently accounts for ~40% and ~25% of the global corn and soybean production respectively. In this talk, I will examine the recent scientific advancements related to the projected impacts of different climate change scenarios on crop productivity and water uses for the Corn Belt agroecosystems. I will then discuss major adaptation options and assessments of their effectiveness. Finally, I will identify novel opportunities in technology and science that can stimulate further development for adaptation and sustainability of the Corn Belt agroecosystems.

Bio: Guan is an Assistant Professor in Ecohydrology and Geoinformatics in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at Illinois, with a joint appointment as a Blue Waters Professor affiliated with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). He uses satellite data, computational models, field work, and machine learning approaches to address how climate and human practices affect crop productivity, water resource availability, and ecosystem functioning. His lab also has keen interests in applying domain knowledge and large-scale computing in solving real-life problems, such as large-scale crop monitoring and forecasting, water management and sustainability, and global food security. Guan got his Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences/Engineering at Princeton University in 2013. Before joining the Illinois faculty, he was a Postdoctoral Scholar working with Professors David Lobell and Joe Berry at Stanford University.

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Thomas W. Hertel

Purdue University

Session I: “Regional Climate Effects: Building Resilience,” 8:45-10:15 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

Presentation title: “Assessing the Inter-regional Incidence of Climate Impacts on Agriculture”

Abstract: The climate impacts literature has yet to fully account for the geography of international agricultural trade, which is characterized by surprisingly rigid bilateral trade relationships stemming from proximity, transport costs, colonial relationships, common language and other geopolitical considerations. In a recent study, my colleagues and I used recent meta-analysis to characterize global gridded climate impacts for corn, soybeans, wheat, and rice in the presence of a 2-degree C temperature increase. Yield impacts are incorporated into the GTAP model of international trade in order to evaluate the welfare impacts on 140 regions. Impacts are decomposed into five components: direct, allocative efficiency, world price, export, and import-specific effects. The latter two reflect the correlations between a country’s trading partners and the pattern of climate impacts. Countries that rely on imports from regions adversely affected by climate change experience greater-than-average welfare losses, whereas countries exporting to these hard-hit regions benefit from increased market access. Our results characterize the interplay between geographically differentiated climate impacts on agriculture and the bilateral pattern of agricultural trade that ultimately determines the welfare effects of climate change. Drawing on these detailed global impacts, we conclude with a reassessment of the global social cost of carbon.

Bio: Hertel is Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue, where his research and teaching focus on international trade, food and environmental security.  He is a Fellow, and a Past President, of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA). He is also the Founder and Executive Director of the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP), which now encompasses more than 15,000 researchers in 170 countries around the world ( This Project maintains a global economic database and an applied general equilibrium modeling framework that are documented in the book: Global Trade Analysis: Modeling and Applications, edited by Hertel, and published by Cambridge University Press. He has supervised more than 40 Ph.D. students and published more than 120 peer-reviewed journal articles, along with several dozen book chapters as well as four books. Hertel is the inaugural recipient of the Purdue University Research and Scholarship Distinction Award. He has also received a number of AAEA awards, including Publication of Enduring Quality, Distinguished Policy Contribution, Outstanding Journal Article and Quality of Communication. He has also been Advisor to two Outstanding AAEA Ph.D. and M.S. theses. Hertel earned a B.A. with honors in Economics in 1976 at University of North Carolina, an M.A. in Public and International Affairs in 1978 at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, and a Ph.D. in Applied Economics in 1983 at Cornell University.

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John Holdren

Former Director of White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Keynote Address: 5:15-6:15 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18

Presentation title: “The Case for Investing in Climate Change Resilience: Insights from Science, Engineering, and Economics”

Abstract: Insights about the magnitude and character of the need for building increased resilience against climate change emerge from reviewing what climate science is telling us about the changes that are ongoing and projected, what engineering and economics are telling us about how much reduction in the offending emissions is likely to be feasible, and what science and economics are telling us about the climate-related damages likely to ensue under best-plausible emissions reductions in the absence of a major effort to build resilience. Such an assessment makes plain that mitigation through emissions reductions and adaptation through increased resilience are not substitutes but complements. Minimizing the suffering in store from climate change will require maximizing both emissions reduction and resilience building.

Bio: Holdren served as President Obama’s Science Advisor and the Senate-confirmed Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) from early 2009 until January 2017. From 1996 through 2008 he was at Harvard University as the Teresa & John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy in the Kennedy School of Government and Professor of Environmental Science & Policy in Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences — positions to which he was reappointed in February 2017. Holdren is also Senior Advisor to the Director at the independent, nonprofit Woods Hole Research Center. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as a foreign member of the Royal Society of London and the Indian National Academy of Engineering. From 1973 to ’96 he was on the faculty of the University of California Berkeley, where he co-founded and co-led the interdisciplinary graduate-degree program in energy and resources. He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. from Stanford in Aerospace Engineering and Theoretical Plasma Physics.

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Atul Jain

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Session III: “Land Use and Ecosystem Impacts of Climate Change,” 1:30-3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

Presentation title: “Interactive and Cumulative Effects of Climate and Land-use Changes on Terrestrial Ecosystems”

Abstract: To date, human activities have been the primary source of land-use and land-cover changes. However, climate change is expected to affect the distributions, conditions, and vulnerability of terrestrial ecosystems —including forests, grasslands, shrublands, tundra, and managed ecosystems (e.g. agricultural lands). These changes, in return, influence climate through physical, chemical, and biological processes that affect planetary energetics, the hydrologic cycle, and atmospheric composition. Predicted increases in precipitation and temperature extremes will exacerbate the changes in many of these processes, and they will increase stressors on terrestrial ecosystems. Interdisciplinary science that integrates knowledge of the many interactive human activities and climate processes (and their impacts on terrestrial ecosystems) is necessary to identify and understand as-yet-unexplored feedbacks in the Earth system — and the potential for reducing uncertainties in projections of our future climate.

Bio: Jain is a Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Illinois. His research focuses on understanding how interactions among the climate system alter the carbon cycle, and to provide useful projections of future changes in global carbon and resultant future climate change. His research goal is to provide the required scientific understanding about how the components of Earth’s climate system interact; it is motivated by the practical and pressing issue of human induced climate change. Jain has won numerous awards and honors, including the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Award. He has served as a lead and contributing author for major assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He is the author of more than 150 scientific articles, including highly cited articles in Nature and Science, most relating to global climate change as affected by both human activities and natural phenomena. He also directs a number of research projects primarily oriented toward improving our understanding of the impacts that man-made and natural trace gases may be having on the Earth’s climate. Jain received a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from the Indian Institute of Technology.

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Matthew E. Kahn

University of Southern California

Keynote Address: Noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20

Presentation title: “A Microeconomic Perspective on the Adaptation Challenge”

Abstract: This talk will focus on the incentives of households and firms to invest in climate resilience. Special attention will be given to identifying factors that inhibit adaptation efforts. The intended and unintended adaptation consequences of local and federal government policy will be explored.

Bio: Kahn is a Professor of Economics at USC, a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a research fellow at the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA). He also serves as a Non-Resident Scholar at the New York University Stern School of Business at the Urbanization Project and as a Non-Resident Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Urban Research. Kahn has taught at Columbia, the Fletcher School at Tufts University and UCLA and has served as a Visiting Professor at Harvard and Stanford and as the Low Tuck Kwong Distinguished Visiting Professor at the National University of Singapore. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago and is the author of Green Cities: Urban Growth and the Environment (Brookings Institution Press 2006) and the co-author of Heroes and Cowards: The Social Face of War (Princeton University Press 2009). In September 2010, Basic Books published his book titled Climatopolis, and in January 2016, he published an updated e-book titled Fundamentals of Environmental and Urban Economics. In May 2016, Princeton University Press published his book Blue Skies over Beijing: Economic Growth and the Environment in China (co-authored with Siqi Zheng). His research focuses on environmental and urban economics.

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Praveen Kumar

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Session IV: “Adapting to Climate Change,” 3:15-5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

Presentation title: “Role of Technology in Adaptation to Climate Change”

Abstract: Climate change is expected to introduce significant uncertainty in our ability to project local and regional outcomes. As a result, informed decisions will be required with increased agility both for reducing the impact and adapting to a new environment. This challenge will be further conflated due to the lack of understanding about human behavior, particularly under stress. To what extent can information from emergent technological advances help us manage in a climate of change? This talk will discuss issues pertaining to technology and climate change adaptation.

Bio: Kumar, the Lovell Endowed Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Illinois, holds a B.Tech. (Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India 1987), M.S. (Iowa State University 1989), and Ph.D. (University of Minnesota 1993), all in Civil Engineering, and has been on the Illinois faculty since 1995. He is also an Affiliate in the Department of Atmospheric Science. His research focus is on complex hydrologic systems bridging across theory, modeling, and informatics. He serves as the Director of the National Science Foundation-funded Critical Zone Observatory for Intensively Managed Landscapes, which is part of a national and international network. He has been an Associate of the Center for Advanced Studies, and a two-time Fellow of the National Center for Super Computing Applications at Illinois. He is an AGU Fellow and the recipient of the Xerox Award for Research, and Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Advising. From 2002 to ’08, he served as a founding Board member for CUAHSI, a consortium of more than 110 universities for the advancement of hydrologic science. From 2009 to ’13, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of Water Resources Research. Prior to that he also served as the Editor of Geophysical Research Letters.

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Robin Leichenko

Rutgers University

Session VI: “Economic and Social Vulnerabilities to Climate Change,” 9-10:15 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20

Presentation title: “Economic Vulnerability to Climate Change in Coastal Regions: Opportunities and Challenges for Building Resilience”

Abstract: Enhancing resilience has become a key element of preparedness for extreme events and climate change. While much progress has been made in defining components of resilience, many questions remain about identification of appropriate strategies for building resilience, barriers to implementation of these strategies, and limits to the potential effectiveness of these efforts. New questions are also emerging about inherent limitations of resilience-based approaches, suggesting that resiliency efforts must be coupled with broader transformations of the social and political conditions that create and perpetuate vulnerabilities. Investigation of resilience options and barriers has particular resonance for urbanized coastal communities, many of which face significant climate hazards and development-related pressures and are also encountering a suite of technical, political, financial, legal, and policy hurdles to adaptation. My research has explored these issues in coastal New Jersey. The methodology entailed a co-production approach, whereby stakeholders and researchers collaborated in the development of climate risk and vulnerability information and identification of resilience options and barriers. The collaboration provided important insights into barriers, limits, and limitations of ongoing resilience-building efforts — but also revealed potential openings for transformation.

Bio: Leichenko is Professor and Chair of Geography at Rutgers University and co-Director of the Rutgers Climate Institute. She earned an M.A. in Geography from the University of Colorado, and an M.A. in Economics and a Ph.D. in Geography from Penn State University. Her current research explores economic vulnerability to climate change, equity implications of climate adaptation, and the interplay between climate extremes and urban spatial development. Leichenko served as a review editor for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report and as a contributing author on the IPCC Special Report on Extreme Events. She is a member of the editorial boards of Economic Geography, Growth and Change, Anthropocene, Urban Climate, and Journal of Extreme Events, and she is past chair of the Economic Geography Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers. Leichenko has authored or co-authored two books and more than 70 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. Her book, Environmental Change and Globalization: Double Exposures (2008, Oxford University Press), won the Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Contribution from the Association of American Geographers.

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Dion McBay

Monsanto Co.

Session VII: “Panel on Public-Private Actions to Adapt to Climate Change,” 10:30 a.m.-noon Wednesday, Sept. 20

Bio: McBay is the Global Sustainable Development Lead at  Monsanto Co. His team brings innovative agriculture technologies to help farmers around the world increase their crop yields and profitability while reducing their impact on the environment and ecosystems. McBay and his team are responsible for Monsanto’s environmental sustainability strategy and oversee the company’s climate change initiatives, carbon neutral commitments, soil health focus, water quality efforts, and biodiversity programs. McBay grew up on his family’s farm in Tennessee and Alabama and has spent much of his life in cotton, corn, sorghum, and soybean fields. He began his career with Monsanto more than 22 years ago and has held positions in global technology development, commercial sales, and marketing leadership. As an advocate for sustainable agriculture, McBay is passionate about driving adoption of carbon smart systems and innovative solutions that allow the farmer to help feed the world in the most sustainable and profitable ways possible. McBay holds an M.B.A. from Baylor University and a B.S. from the University of Alabama, both with honors. He and his family have resided in St. Louis for the past 16 years.

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Bill Northcott

Chief Innovation Officer, Agrible Inc.

Session VII: “Panel on Public-Private Actions to Adapt to Climate Change,” 10:30 a.m.-noon Wednesday, Sept. 20

Bio: Northcott is a Co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Agrible, Inc., where he works on developing and researching the science and feasibility of new products. He has a B.S. and Ph.D. in Agricultural Engineering and an M.S. in Agronomy and Soil Science, all from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Northcott is an expert in agricultural hydrology and crop water use. His expertise lies in soil hydrology, chemistry and fertility, agricultural meteorology and the impacts of climate change on agricultural production systems, data science, and software development. Prior to Agrible, he was a faculty member at Michigan State University, where he also served as the state Extension specialist in Irrigation, Drainage and Water Management.

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Donald Ort

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Session II: “Vulnerability of Agriculture and Ecosystems to Climate Change,” 10:30 a.m.-noon Tuesday, Sept. 19

Presentation title: “More than Taking the Heat”

Abstract: The CO2 concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere, the main driver of global warming, has been rising at an accelerating rate now increasing at an average annual rate of >2.1 μmol mol-1. Despite global and regional importance few studies have evaluated the interactive effects of elevated CO2 and temperature on crop photosynthetic physiology, agronomic traits or biomass and seed yield — and no previous work has been done to evaluate the impact of elevated CO2 and temperature under open field conditions. That C4 photosynthesis has a warmer temperature optimum than C3 crops has led to prediction that warming will have less impact on crops like maize compared to C3 crops grown within a region. However, recent modeling and time series studies do not fully support this projection. We have conducted temperature by Free Air CO2 Enrichment experiments to understand and quantify the effects of increasing [CO2] (200 µmol mol-1 above ambient) and/or temperature (+3.5 °C above ambient) across the full growing season on maize and soybean photosynthesis, biomass and yield. In addition to season long warming we have simulated heat waves (+3 days at 6°C above ambient) during both vegetative and reproductive stages of both crops. In addition to the direct effects that warmer growing season temperatures may have on crop growth and reproduction, warmer temperatures in the Corn Belt have already increased vapor pressure deficit — which in turn lowers the amount of production that a given amount of precipitation can support.

Bio: Ort is the Robert Emerson Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at Illinois and Research Leader of the USDA/ARS Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit in Urbana. His B.S. degree is in Biology/Chemistry from Wake Forest University and he earned his Ph.D. in Plant Biochemistry from Michigan State University. He served as President of International Society of Photosynthesis Research, President of the International Association of Plant Physiology, President of the American Society of Plant Biologists and as Editor-in-Chief of Plant Physiology, and he is an Associate Editor of Annual Review of Plant Biology. He is the 2006 ASPB Kettering Award recipient, an elected Fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologist in 2007, a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science Award in 2009, and elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2017. He is the Director of the SoyFACE project at Illinois, a unique open-air laboratory investigating the impacts of rising carbon dioxide and tropospheric ozone and their interactions with temperature and precipitation on crop systems of the Midwest. He is also Theme Leader of Genomic Ecology of Global Change in the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois. His laboratory is engaged in three lines of research: i) Redesigning photosynthesis for improved efficiency; ii) Molecular and biochemical basis of environmental interactions with crop plants; and iii) Ecological genomics — interactive effects of CO2, temperature and drought on plant, plant canopy and plant ecosystem performance.

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Christopher Preston

University of Montana

Session V: “The Human Impacts of Climate Change: Causes and Solutions,” 8-9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20

Presentation title: “Climate Justice and Community: A Care Approach to Impacts Identification”

Abstract: When considering the ethical aspects of climate change — and various attempts to deal with it — much has been made of the distributive elements of justice. Who gets the greatest burdens, who gets the benefits, and is this distribution fair? Another important element of justice is procedural. Who gets to make the big decisions and are procedures in place to ensure fairness in how these decisions are made? In addition to procedural and distributive justice, recognitional justice is an increasingly important element of climate justice. Recognition is a particularly important lens when non-economic harms (and benefits) are in play. Such harms include loss of community, destruction of traditional practices, the instigation of undesirable power dynamics, and threats to senses of place and security. In attempting to account for these non-economic harms, the utilitarian framing of standard risk assessment often falls short. This presentation explores how care ethics can provide a helpful lens for spotting recognitional injustices. A focus on relationships, context, power, dependency, and narrative can shed new light on a host of morally significant climate impacts.

Bio: Preston is a Professor of Philosophy and a Research Fellow at the Mansfield Center’s Program on Ethics and Public Affairs at the University of Montana. He works in environmental philosophy, climate ethics, the ethics of emerging technologies, and feminist philosophy. His books include Saving Creation: Nature and Faith in the Life of Holmes Rolston, III (Trinity University Press 2009) and Grounding Knowledge: Environmental Philosophy, Epistemology, and Place (University of Georgia Press 2003). He is editor of the first collection on the ethics geoengineering, Engineering the Climate: The Ethics of Solar Radiation Management (Lexington Press 2012) and more recently Climate Justice and Geoengineering: Ethics and Policy in the Atmospheric Anthropocene (Rowman and Littlefield International 2016). His introductory monograph The Synthetic Age: How Humans are Making and Remaking the Earth will be released by MIT Press in March 2018. An author of more than three dozen articles in environmental philosophy, Preston has been co-PI on two National Science Foundation grants on ethics and emerging technologies. He has been an external reviewer for the IPCC and the Convention on Biological Diversity. He is also the recipient of a Templeton Foundation grant.

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Julian Reif

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Session V: “The Human Impacts of Climate Change: Causes and Solutions,” 8-9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20

Presentation title: “Air Pollution, Health, and Medical Spending”

Abstract: Accurately quantifying the health effects of pollution reduction matters greatly for determining optimal environmental policy — especially for countries like the United States, where current pollution levels are relatively low and further reductions may be very costly. I present new evidence from the first large-scale, quasi-experimental investigation of the effects of short-term fine particulate matter exposure on mortality and medical costs among the elderly.

Bio: Reif is an Assistant Professor of Finance and Economics in the College of Business and the Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) at Illinois. He is also a Research Associate at the U of I’s Center for Business and Public Policy, and a Research Economist at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and JPAL North America. His research interests include population health, health care, and public finance. His recent work includes research on the value of health and longevity, the effectiveness of social insurance programs, and the health effects of air pollution.

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Jesse Ribot

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Session VI: “Economic and Social Vulnerabilities to Climate Change,” 9-10:15 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20

Presentation title: “Vulnerability and Migration: Climate of Distress in the West African Sahel”

Abstract: Causal analysis of vulnerability aims to explain crises so that transformative solutions might be found. Yet root-cause analysis is absent from most climate response assessments. Most analysts of climate risk continue to locate causality in hazards while attributing some causal weight to proximate social variables such as poverty or lack of capacity. They rarely ask why assets are inadequate, capacity is lacking, or social protections fail. I will frame vulnerability and security as matters of access to assets and social protections, which each have their own context-contingent causal chains. A key recursive element in those causal chains is the ability — means and powers — of vulnerable people to influence the political economy that shapes their assets and social protections. Vulnerability is, as Amartya Sen observed, linked to the lack of freedom — the freedom to influence the political economy that shapes entitlements. In the Anthropocene, human causes of climate hazard must also now be accounted for in etiologies of disaster. However, attention to anthropogenic climate change should not occlude social causes of (and responsibility for) vulnerability — vulnerability is still social. I will illustrate these arguments with the case of migrants leaving the drylands of Eastern Senegal for Europe.

Bio: Ribot is Professor of Geography, Anthropology and Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at Illinois, where he is affiliated with the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory and the Women and Gender in Global Perspective program, and he directs the Social Dimensions of Environmental Policy Program. Before 2008, he worked at the World Resources Institute, taught in the Urban Studies and Planning department at MIT and was a fellow at the Department of Politics in The New School for Social Research, Agrarian Studies at Yale University, the Center for the Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture at Rutgers, the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, the Woodrow Wilson Center and Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Most recently, he has been a Fellow at the Stanford Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences and an Affiliate of the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University and of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. Ribot is an Africanist studying local democracy, resource access and social vulnerability.

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Mark Rosegrant

International Food Policy Research Institute

Session IV: “Adapting to Climate Change,” 3:15-5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

Presentation title: “Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture and Adaptation and Mitigation Policies to 2050”

Abstract: Climate change is projected to reduce agricultural production growth in much of the world, resulting in higher food prices and increased hunger compared to a constant climate case. Many developing countries with limited adaptive capacity are expected to be especially hard hit by climate change. Climate adaptation and mitigation in agriculture will require institutional, policy, and investment improvements. Sustainably improving agricultural productivity growth to substantially improve food security requires major progress in six areas: (1) increasing crop and livestock productivity through enhanced investment in agricultural research; (2) development and use of climate-smart technologies; (3) increased investment in rural infrastructure, including roads and irrigation; (4) improved legal and regulatory systems for agricultural technologies; (5) reformed economic policies, including phasing out fertilizer, energy, and water subsidies that distort production decisions and encourage excess use of inputs and increased carbon emissions; and (6) policies to increase diet diversity and promote reduced-carbon diets.

Bio: Rosegrant is Director of the Environment and Production Technology Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). With a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Michigan, he has extensive experience in research and policy analysis in agriculture and economic development, with an emphasis on water resources and other critical natural resource and agricultural policy issues as they impact food security, rural livelihoods, and environmental sustainability. He currently directs research on climate change, water resources, sustainable land management, genetic resources and biotechnology, and agriculture and energy. He is the author or editor of 15 books and more than 100 refereed papers in agricultural economics, water resources and food policy analysis. Rosegrant, who has won numerous awards, is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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Daniel P. Schrag

Harvard University

Session III: “Land Use and Ecosystem Impacts of Climate Change,” 1:30-3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

Presentation title: “The Timescale of Climate Change Impacts on Land and Ocean”

Bio: Schrag is the Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology, Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering at Harvard University, and Director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment. He also co-directs the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. His interests include climate change, energy technology, and energy policy. He has studied climate change over the broadest range of Earth’s history, including how climate change and the chemical evolution of the atmosphere influenced the evolution of life in the past, and what steps might be taken to prepare for impacts of climate change in the future. He helped to develop the hypothesis that the Earth experienced a series of extreme glaciations, called “Snowball Earths,” that may have stimulated a rise in atmospheric oxygen and the proliferation of multicellular animals. He is also interested in how we can use climate events in the geologic past to understand our current climate challenges. Schrag has worked on a range of issues in energy technology and policy, including advanced technologies for low-carbon transportation fuel, carbon capture and storage, and risks and opportunities of shale gas. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2000. He served on President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), contributing to many reports to the President, including energy technology and national energy policy, agricultural preparedness, climate change, and STEM education.

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Stephen Smith

Dow AgroSciences

Session VII: “Panel on Public-Private Actions to Adapt to Climate Change,” 10:30 a.m.-noon Wednesday, Sept. 20

Bio: Smith is the Global Technology Transfer Leader for Dow AgroSciences with the responsibility to develop training curricula and strategies for new product and technology launches for both the internal sales organization as well as for external audiences. In addition, he is a member of the Dow AgroSciences’ Sustainability Steering Team. During his 20 years with the company, he has held roles in Agronomy Services, Marketing, Product Management, and was previously the U.S. National Sales Manager for Mycogen Seeds. Smith currently serves on the steering team of the Hunger Solutions Network, a Dow AgroSciences employee network, and leads the Indianapolis-based employee engagement efforts. He is also Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Indy Hunger Network (IHN), a nonprofit, collaborative impact organization that promotes access for all to nutritious food through a sustainable hunger relief system for Indianapolis. Smith’s educational background includes B.S. and M.S. degrees in Agronomy from Penn State University.

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Gernot Wagner

Harvard University

Session IV: “Adapting to Climate Change,” 3:15-5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

Presentation title: “Solar Geoengineering as Part of an Optimal Climate Policy Portfolio?”

Abstract: In the long chain from greenhouse gas emission to climatic impacts, only mitigation tackles the root cause. Carbon geoengineering breaks the link between emissions and concentrations. Solar geoengineering breaks the link between concentrations and temperatures. Adaptation breaks the link between temperature and damages. Solar geoengineering is by far the most controversial such intervention. What makes it so? In particular, what is its interaction with mitigating emissions in the first place, and how does it matter?

Bio: Wagner is a Research Associate at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, a Lecturer on Environmental Science and Public Policy, the Executive Director of Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Research Program, and an Associate at the Harvard University Center for the Environment. He wrote Climate Shock with Harvard’s Martin Weitzman (Princeton University Press 2015, paperback 2016), a Top 15 Financial Times McKinsey Business Book of the Year 2015, now also Austria’s Natural Science Book of the Year 2017; and But will the planet notice? (Hill & Wang/Farrar Strauss & Giroux 2011, paperback 2012). Wagner served as an Economist at the Environment Defense Fund (2008-16), most recently as its lead senior economist (2014-16) and member of its Leadership Council (2015-16). He holds a joint B.S. in Environmental Science, Public Policy, and Economics, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government from Harvard, as well as a M.S. in Economics from Stanford. Wagner also serves as a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a consultant for EDF.

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Donald Wuebbles

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Session I: “Regional Climate Effects: Building Resilience,” 8:45-10:15 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

Presentation title: “The Climate Science Special Report: An Assessment of the Science of Climate Change”

Abstract: As a prelude to the 4th National Climate Assessment, the Climate Science Special Report is being developed to provide a comprehensive assessment of the science underlying the changes occurring in the Earth’s climate system, with a special focus on the United States. To summarize some of the findings, the science is clear: The climate on our planet, including the U.S., is changing much more rapidly than occurs naturally, and it is happening primarily because of human activities, especially from our use of fossil fuels but also from land use change. Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans. Documented changes include surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; and rising sea level. Storms are changing in intensity, precipitation patterns are altering, and the occurrence of droughts is shifting. Humanity is already feeling the effects of the changes in extreme weather and in sea level rise. Many sectors of our society are being affected, including threats on human health and well-being. The U.S. is seeing effects from the changing climate and these effects are likely to continue and get significantly larger in the future, affecting the people that live and work here. But there is hope — the science also shows that the extent of future effects on human society depend on how we act to limit climate change and our response to potential impacts.

Bio: Wuebbles is the Preble Endowed Professor of Atmospheric Science and a Presidential Fellow at Illinois. From 2015 to January 2017, he was Assistant Director with the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the Executive Office of the President. He is an expert in atmospheric physics and chemistry, with more than 500 scientific publications. In research related to climate change, in addition to science studies, he has developed metrics used in national and international policy and has studied climate impacts on society, plus potential resilience and societal responses. He has co-authored a number of international and national scientific assessments, including those by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He helped lead the 2013 IPCC international assessment of climate science and the 2014 U.S. National Climate Assessment. He currently is co-leading a special assessment of climate science as a prelude to the 4th U.S. National Climate Assessment. He has received many awards, including American Meteorological Society’s Cleveland Abbe Award and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award, and is a Fellow of three major professional science societies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Meteorological Society.

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Session Moderators

Listed chronologically:

Keynote: John Holdren, 5:15-6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18

  • Evan H. DeLucia, Director of Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment, Professor of Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More on DeLucia here.

Session I: “Regional Climate Effects: Building Resilience,” 8:45-10:15 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

  • Lisa Ainsworth, Associate Professor of Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More on Ainsworth here.

Session II: “Vulnerability of Agriculture and Ecosystems to Climate Change,” 10:30 a.m.-noon Tuesday, Sept. 19

  • Carla Cáceres, Director of School of Integrative Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More on Cáceres here.

Lunchtime Keynote: Justin Gillis, noon-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

  • Gillen D’Arcy Wood, Langan Professorial Scholar of Environmental Humanities of English, Professor of Geology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More on Wood here.

Session III: “Land Use and Ecosystem Impacts of Climate Change,” 1:30-3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

  • Jeffrey Brawn, Head of Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More on Brawn here.

Session IV: “Adapting to Climate Change,” 3:15-5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

Session V: “The Human Impacts of Climate Change: Causes and Solutions,” 8-9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20

  • Pradeep Dhillon, Associate Professor of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More on Dhillon here.

Session VI: “Economic and Social Vulnerabilities to Climate Change,” 9-10:15 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20

  • Ben Crost, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More on Crost here.

Session VII: “Panel on Public-Private Actions to Adapt to Climate Change,” 10:30 a.m.-noon Wednesday, Sept. 20

  • Madhu Khanna, ACES Distinguished Professor of Environmental Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More on Khanna here.

Lunchtime Keynote: Matthew E. Kahn, noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20

  • Don Fullerton, Gutgsell Professor of Finance and Institute of Government and Public Affairs, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More on Fullerton here.
Poster Presenters

Students, postdocs and other researchers were invited to present posters during the evening receptions on Sept. 18 and 19. 



  • Shaowen Amy Chen, M.S. Candidate, Atmospheric Sciences: “The Possible Changes in Atmospheric Rivers along the U.S. Pacific Coast under Climate Change” — Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are long and narrow filamentary bands of moist air that transport a large portion of the water vapor from tropics toward the poles in the lower atmosphere (Zhu and Newell, 1998). The presence or absence of ARs plays a significant role in the U.S. west coast water resources as the landfall of ARs in winters increase the water supply and contribute 20-50% of overall precipitation. But it may result in flooding or drought during anomalous AR periods (Dettinger et al., 2011). This study used Matlab to visualize the model projected data of AR events under the A2 greenhouse-gas emission scenario focusing on the U.S. Northwest. The comparison of model-projected change in AR events’ variables such as duration, intensity, and number of events will be presented.
  • Nicole Choquette, M.S. Candidate, Plant Biology: “Genetic Architecture of Photosynthesis and its Response to Elevated Ozone in Maize” — Ozone (O3) in the troposphere is among the most damaging air pollutants to vegetation and currently reduces maize yields by ~10%. By 2100, O3 is predicted to increase by 10-30 ppb, which would decrease maize yields by an additional 4.4-8.7%. Identifying genetic variation in O3 tolerance and key traits for selection is crucial to breeding for O3 tolerance. This study investigates photosynthesis in 45 diverse hybrids, comprising of a half-diallel population, and in 100 B73-Mo17 near isogenic lines (NILs) grown over two field seasons in a replicated experiment, at ambient (~40 ppb) and elevated O3 concentrations (~100 ppb). A high throughput protocol was developed to measure photosynthesis on 2560 leaves in 10 days. Photosynthesis in the hybrids ranged from 10.30 μmol m-2s-1 to 42.95 μmol m-2s-1 under ambient conditions and is highly heritable (H2=0.64). In elevated O3, crosses with NC338 showed significant reductions between 26.44% to 42.32% in photosynthesis. In the NILs, two common quantitative trait loci were observed for photosynthetic traits, one on chromosome 6 (in ambient and elevated O3), and another on chromosome 7. This study represents a first step toward identifying genetic variation and molecular markers for O3 tolerance in maize, as well as improving photosynthetic capacity.
  • William Davies, Ph.D. Candidate, Mechanical Engineering: “Effect of California’s Carbon Cap-and-Trade Policy on Home Design” — This research analyzes the effectiveness of California’s carbon cap-and-trade policy at the micro and macro levels. At the micro level, it examines home design in Los Angeles to determine if the policy has a significant effect on design, cost, and carbon emissions for individual homeowners. At the macro level, it analyzes carbon price and emissions data to determine if the policy has provided a net benefit to the state. This paper uses publicly-available carbon price, emissions, and electricity price data from 2012 and 2014, two years after program initialization. The home is designed using the ZEROs software. The paper compares the quantity and cost of carbon emissions saved for both a hypothetical homeowner and the state’s power generation industry as a whole, and compares those to the estimated value of reducing carbon emissions. The price of electricity in California is found to have increased faster than the rate of inflation, and this would cause homeowners to reduce energy consumption, with a cost of $124/MTCO2e saved. Statewide cost of emissions saved is estimated to be $300/MTCO2e.
  • Victoria Harris, M.S. Candidate, Public Health/Applied Health Sciences: “Integrating Climate Change Education into Medical School Curriculum” — According to recent polls, it is evident that there is a large gap between those who acknowledge the existence of climate change and those who do not. The implication of such denial is paramount, as the overwhelming majority of scientific data already shows the impacts of increased atmospheric temperature. This project focuses on the human health impacts of climate change and identifies physicians as a key player in the mitigation of increased risks resulting from climate change. To bring awareness to the importance of integrating climate change education into medical school curriculum, I am doing a literature review of climate change education integration in schools throughout the United States. My conclusion: Environmental context is crucial in identifying and treating illness. With climate change disrupting the predictability of health outcomes and the effectiveness of long-established health interventions, medical students must better prepare to encounter the emerging negative health outcomes.
  • Santosh Misra, Postdoctoral Researcher, Bioengineering: “Photo-Thermal Remediation of Hospital Waste with Hazardous Genetic Material” — Drugs, disinfectants and genetic material pools in form of small pieces of body tissues often enter hospital waste waters after excretion by patients, with doctors hand wash and various other forms of improper disposals. Traditional water treatment plants often have arrangements for pharmaceutical removal efficiency to some extent but completely ignore flowing genetic materials leading to high risk of generating immunogenic response to recipients of treated water. We present a new surface based technology using enediynes for successful cleaving of DNA samples under ultraviolet (UV) and heat conditions. An enediyene coated carbon allotrope surface was developed and incubated with DNA samples under controlled UV and heat conditions. Enediyne exposed to heat and/or UV form a highly reactive benzene diradical and caused DNA cleavage at multiple points. Heat and UV exposure without enediynes were used as positive controls and found to be least effective under same conditions. Mass, NMR and gel electrophoresis methods were successfully used to verify the final outcome. Finally, a chamber was developed with enediyne coated carbon allotrope surface for possible introduction in hospital waste disposal stream for deactivating genetic hazards before flowing toward traditional waste water treatment plants.
  • Jennifer Quebedeaux, Ph.D. Candidate, Plant Biology: “Potential Gene Targets to Improve Crop Productivity Under Elevated [CO2]” — Elevated [CO2] stimulates photosynthesis, sugar production, and nighttime respiration in C3 plants, leading to greater yield, with positive potential impacts on food supply. Some genes are important in regulating homeostasis of photosynthesis and respiration as source-sink balance changes. Soybean transcriptomics identified differentially expressed genes in the response to elevated [CO2], including GNC, a transcriptional regulator of sugar transporters (+24%), and GPT2, a glucose-6-phosphate/ phosphate translocator (+140%). These genes have potential as regulators of metabolic responses to elevated [CO2] to be manipulated to enhance future crop performance. T-DNA knockout (KO) lines of Arabidopsis thaliana for GNC and GPT2 were grown at ambient (370 ppm) and elevated (750 ppm) [CO2] to assess their physiology and biochemistry. Previous data show that GNC KO mutants have no stimulation in aboveground biomass, lower chlorophyll content, lower leaf area, and fewer stomata when grown at elevated [CO2], while GPT2 has been shown to regulate photosynthetic acclimation to high light. To further characterize the response of these mutants to elevated [CO2], photosynthesis and respiration were measured. Leaf tissues were also collected to measure carbohydrate and nitrogen content. These data will assist in determining whether these genes can be targeted for crop improvement.
  • Lorena Rios-Acosta, Ph.D. Candidate, Plant Biology: “Genotypic Diversity in the Responses of Yield and Yield Components to Elevated Ozone of Diverse Inbred and Hybrid Maize” — Current tropospheric ozone concentrations (O3), an important air pollutant, are phytotoxic and detrimental to crop yield causing significant losses of ~14-26 billion in 4 of the world’s major crops. Until recent years, it was believed that agricultural and economically important C4 plants, such as maize, were not significantly affected by O3. This project evaluated variation in the effects of elevated ozone (100ppb) on yield and yield components (ear number, individual kernel weight or kernel number) across diverse genotypes of inbred and hybrid maize during three growing seasons at the Free Air Concentration Enrichment (FACE) site in Champaign, Ill. In 2015, 10 inbred lines were retested in addition to eight hybrid lines. Primary kernel mass (yield) was, on average, significantly lower in inbred and hybrid lines for 2014 and 2015 respectively. While some lines were sensitive to yield loss (up to -76% in inbreds and -26% in hybrids) others were highly tolerant of growth at elevated O3. Yield loss was primarily driven by decreased kernel number in inbreds, and by decreased individual kernel mass in hybrid genotypes. Inbred genotypes, B73 and Mo17 were identified as O3-tolerant and O3-sensitive, respectively.
  • Nastaran Shishegar, Ph.D. Candidate, Architecture: “Evaluating the Impacts of Installing Daylight Responsive Control Systems on Lighting and Cooling Electrical Energy Savings” — Lighting is considered one of the most important issues in reducing energy consumption of a building. It is estimated that electrical lighting consumes 25-40 percent of the total electrical energy in a typical commercial building in the United States. Daylighting could be considered a cost-effective alternative to artificial lighting by not only reducing the demands for electrical energy, but also providing occupants with a pleasant and healthy indoor environment. Through installing sensors and controllers, daylighting is able to reduce and even eliminate the use of artificial lighting needed to deliver sufficient illuminance levels. My area of study is a simulation-based research that investigates the impacts of various types of daylighting controllers on enhancing lighting, cooling, and total electrical energy consumption of office buildings located in hot climates. E-Quest is used as the energy simulation tool to calculate and compare electrical and lighting energy consumption. To assess the effects of daylight control systems in humid and arid hot climates, Miami, Phoenix, and Houston have been chosen as three locations for the prototype office building. Results of this study demonstrate that installing daylighting controllers in office buildings significantly reduces electrical energy consumption of the building, particularly that of lighting.
  • Erik Stanek, M.S. Candidate, Crop Sciences: “A Participatory Approach to Improving the Design and Adoption of Multifunctional Perennial Cropping Systems in the Upper Sangamon River Watershed, Illinois” — Multifunctional perennial cropping systems (MPCs) are an agricultural system that utilizes various trees, shrubs, and/or perennial herbaceous plants to produce high-value food products and ecosystem services. Interest in these systems has begun to grow but the understanding of landowner’s design preferences and adoption motivators/barriers are not well understood. Earlier research on MPCs revealed that when considering the adoption of these systems, landowners lacked adequate information to make an informed decision. This study aimed to fill that gap by identifying MPCs design preferences, information needs, and adoption barriers/bridges of 15 landowners within the Upper Sangamon River Watershed of Central Illinois. To do this, participants received three alternative designs for their land, each based off a unique normative future scenario summarized by one of the following goals: (1) Production, (2) Conservation, (3) Cultural. Participants were given realistic design visualizations and information on management, ecosystem benefits, profitability, and marketability of the designs to test implications of land use transformations. Participants were surveyed before and after the design process, as well as directly participating in the design process. Results of the study will be used to help improve decision-making tools, system designs, and future strategies for facilitating the further diffusion and adoption of MPCs.
  • Christopher Szul, B.S. Candidate, Physics: “Climate Action Gaming Experiment” — The Climate Action Gaming Experiment (CAGE) simulates international interactions on policies related to greenhouse gases and global solar radiation management. In its current version, CAGE divides the world into six regions. An economic growth model is combined with a simple global carbon and heat balance models. Based on careful calibration against historical data, CAGE provides extrapolations of population, gross domestic product, and, energy use and carbon dioxide emissions for each region, and of on global average temperature, atmospheric carbon concentration, and sea level to the year of 2195. The simulation participants are assigned one of the six regions and are tasked to alter current policies related to greenhouse gases and global solar radiation management in order to maximize a measure of welfare for their own region. To simulate global cooperation atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and climate change, participants are allowed to negotiate non-enforceable agreements with other regions regarding the policies at specific temporal stages of the simulation. Examples are provided to demonstrate the flexibility of CAGE: It can be used as an educational version or as a behavioral experiment for research purposes. Possible extensions to CAGE are also discussed.
  • Krti Tallam, B.S. Candidate, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences: “From the Visible to the Invisible: Patterns of Parasitism in Illinois Birds” — Populations of many bird species have been declining throughout North America, although the causes of decline are often unclear. Rapidly changing environments present novel stressors that may be driving these declines by negatively impacting the health of birds. Therefore, we assessed how avian health is affected by environmental stressors along an urban to natural gradient. One potential indicator of bird health is infection with parasites and pathogens. In order to understand how environmental factors impact infection levels, we have to establish a baseline for measures of parasite diversity and abundance. For this project, we conducted a literature survey of articles from the past century documenting parasites and pathogens in seven common shrubland birds: the American Robin, Brown- headed Cowbird, Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, and Northern Cardinal. We provide parasite species lists for each host, examine shared infections among hosts, and provide a map of the geographic range of observations. Parasites of many hosts are understudied, and we explore how detection bias may limit our understanding of parasite diversity and abundance.
  • Jessica Wedow, Ph.D. Candidate, Plant Biology: “Metabolomic Profiling of Maize under Elevated Ozone Concentrations” — Tropospheric ozone (O3) concentrations within agricultural regions across the global have the potential to reach damaging levels for crop production. O3 enters plants through the stomata where it causes oxidative stress to vegetative and reproductive tissues. Oxidative damage affects transcript, protein, and metabolites profiles, along with accelerated senescence and decreased yields. Metabolite profiling can provide a cellular signature of crop response to environmental stresses, including O3. In this study, multiple untargeted metabolite profiling techniques were utilized to achieve a comprehensive profile of maize metabolite response to elevated O3 concentrations. Maize inbred lines B73 and Mo17, and the hybrid, B73 x Mo17, were grown at SoyFACE in Savoy, Ill. Plants were grown at ambient (average 40 ppb) and elevated (100 ppb) [O3] and the leaf subtending the ear was sampled for metabolite profiling. Samples were analyzed at the University of Florida, Southeast Center for Integrated Metabolomics for LC-MS and NMR, and the UIUC metabolomics center for GC-MS. A metabolomics analysis workflow ( was used to identify which metabolites were most responsive to elevated O3. This poster will focus on the results from the GC-MS experiment, highlighting variation in metabolite profiles in ambient and elevated [O3] and important differences among genotypes.
  • Erin Welsh, Ph.D. Candidate, Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology: “A Framework for Estimating the Potential Effects of Climate Change on Tick-borne Disease Risk in Panama” — In tropical regions, global climate change is expected to promote reduced and increasingly variable precipitation, with potential to alter the environmental parameters which determine vector-borne disease transmission. The consequences of climate change for tick distributions in Central America have received scant attention, despite the presence of several important tick-borne diseases (TBDs). This study evaluates the relative contributions of abiotic and biotic factors in determining current TBD risk in Panama. Field efforts were conducted throughout twenty-four months at three sites spanning a natural precipitation gradient across Panama. Tick abundance and survival were monitored weekly at each site, and local mammal species richness was estimated using camera traps. Preliminary findings indicate that tick abundance is negatively correlated with precipitation, and the lowest abundance of nymphs and adults occurred at the wettest site. Tick mortality was highest at the dry site, suggesting that future potential increases in abundance may be tempered by a corresponding increase in mortality. These results, in combination with pathogen and mammal community data, will be used to model current TBD risk and how disease dynamics may shift due to climate change. This model can serve as a framework for other studies of climate change-vector interactions.

Accommodations & More

Dance Performance at Speakers Dinner 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19

Title: “bend the even (work in progress)”

Credits: Choreography by Jennifer Monson; performed by Monson and Mauriah Kraker; music composed by Zeena Parkins and Jeff Kolar

Bio: Monson, a Professor of Dance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, uses choreographic practice as a means to discover connections between environmental, philosophical and aesthetic approaches to knowledge and understandings of our surroundings. As artistic director of iLAND (interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art Nature Dance), she creates large-scale dance projects informed and inspired by phenomena of the natural and the built environment. Her projects include BIRD BRAIN (2000-06), a dance project that followed the migrations of gray whales, ospreys and ducks and geese; iMAP/Ridgewood Reservoir (2007), Mahomet Aquifer Project” (2009), SIP(sustained immersive process)/watershed (2010), Live Dancing Archive (2012-14) and in tow ( 2014-16). Monson has been on the Illinois faculty ince 2008 and was a Marsh Professor at Large at the University of Vermont (2010-16).

Alice Campbell Alumni Center

Alice Campbell Alumni Center

The Alice Campbell Alumni Center is located at Lincoln Avenue and California Street in Urbana, just south of the iconic Hallene Gateway Plaza (which marks the east entryway to the Urbana- Champaign campus). This facility is a warm and welcoming space perfect for soaking in the latest knowledge on how water, agriculture, and energy interact in our world today and in the future.

Address: 601 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana, IL 61801

View on Google Maps or the Illinois Campus Map.


Alumni Center website


Getting here:
The Champaign Urbana Mass Transit District’s 22 Illini route will drop off passengers at the intersections of Illinois and Lincoln and Oregon and Lincoln — both just one block from the venue. The Red line will make a stop at Nevada and Lincoln, a block and a half away.

Parking is available at meters in nearby lots and along the street. Please be sure to read the specific instructions of your meter; each street and lot can be slightly different from others nearby. Stay tuned to this page for more details on parking availability.

Bicycle racks are available, and active transportation is encouraged.


Nearby eats: click for a map of places to grab a bite between sessions.

Air Travel

Willard Airport (CMI)

The quickest, easiest way to travel a long distance to the iSEE Congress is to fly into Willard Airport (CMI) in Savoy, a five-minute shuttle ride from the I Hotel.