Christopher Field

Photo: Liz Mangelsdorf

Christopher Field

Special Focus on the Environment
15th Heinz Awards - 2009

Christopher Field received the 15th Heinz Award with Special Focus on the Environment – for his contributions toward understanding the impacts of climate change on the earth’s ecosystems as well as for his national and international leadership in bringing science to the policy process.

Dr. Field has played a critical role in the emergence of global ecology as a unique discipline, applying it to diverse questions concerning the scientific foundations for a sustainable future. He plays a major role in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), where he currently co-leads the international effort on assessing climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.

Dr. Field conducts experiments and develops models that explore the complexity of natural ecosystems in a changing climate, providing important frameworks for sound climate-change policy. Trained as an ecologist, Dr. Field has spent the last two decades studying the impacts of climate change on agriculture, forests, and other ecosystems, plus feedbacks of these changes on climate and crucial ecosystem services.

For nearly 30 years, he has been a leader in exploring and pushing the boundaries of ecological studies. With research in habitats ranging from deserts to grasslands to tropical rainforests, Dr. Field uses a wide range of approaches to understand ecosystem processes from the molecular to the global scale.

Dr. Field is considered one of the premier scientists in his field. He is the founding director of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science and a professor of biology and environmental earth systems science at Stanford University. He is also a senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University and faculty director of Stanford’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. Because of his rigorous research, collegial approach, and his commitment to making science accessible to the policy process, he has earned the broad respect of scientists around the world.

Note: This profile was written at the time of the awards’ presentation.

My greatest wish is that climate science gets a fair hearing and that countries, communities and individuals have the information to make smart decisions about their future. ...If we don’t take action soon, action becomes much more expensive, much more complicated and much less likely to be successful.”

— Christopher Field


Christopher Field, Leader in Bringing Climate Science to the Policy Process - Heinz Awardee

Christopher Field, Heinz Awardee speech (pre-recorded), 2009 Heinz Awards presentation