News Archive

posted 04/17/03

Prestigious Panel Of Scientists, Leaders, And Activists To Advise Ten-Year Vision For The Earth Institute

The Earth Institute at Columbia University is pleased to announce the appointment of its first External Advisory Board, which includes an impressive range of global-view leaders such as philanthropist George Soros, Harvard Professor Edward O. Wilson, and musician/activist Bono.

More than half of the 15-member board will convene for the first time in April at the Morningside and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory campuses of Columbia University for in-depth discussions on major initiatives within The Earth Institute at Columbia University. The Earth Institute is the world’s leading academic center for the integrated study of Earth, its environment, and society. Under the leadership of international economist Jeffrey D. Sachs, the Earth Institute focuses on fostering economic growth in developing nations by promoting human health, spurring innovation, and preserving a sustainable environment.

The Earth Institute External Advisory Board includes experts on world poverty, inequality and disease; human rights; environmental research and theory; and medicine. The advisers are notable for major global contributions, and include Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, former country presidents and presidential advisers, and high-level governmental and non-governmental advisers.

Dr. Roy Anderson, Professor and Head of the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London. Dr. Anderson is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Foreign Member of the Institute of Medicine at the US National Academy of Sciences. His principal research interests include immunology and health economics, and public understanding of science.

Dr. Kenneth J. Arrow, Joan Kenney Professor of Economics, Emeritus, at Stanford University. Dr. Arrow earned his Ph.D in economics from Columbia in 1951. He received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science in 1972, and has written or collaborated on seven books and some 220 papers in learned journals on general equilibrium theory, social choice theory, economic growth and innovation, health economics, the economics of information, environmental economics, the estimation of production functions, and aerial navigation.

Dr. Barry Bloom, Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, and Dean of the Faculty of Public Health. Dr. Bloom has been extensively involved with the World Health Organization for more than 30 years. He has advised the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and chaired the Vaccine Advisory Committee of UNAIDS, where he played a critical role in the debate surrounding the ethics of AIDS vaccine trials. In 1999, he received the Robert Koch Gold Medal for lifetime research in infectious diseases.

Bono, Musician and Activist. Bono has worked with Amnesty International, Greenpeace, the Jubilee 2000 Drop the Debt campaign, and last year helped to found a new organization called DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa). He is also the lead singer of the Irish rock group U2, who have sold over 100 million albums since they formed in 1980.

Dr. Norman Borlaug, Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture, Texas A&M University. Recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the World Food Prize, Borlaug is considered among his peers as the father of the Green Revolution.

Sir Partha Dasgupta, Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics, Cambridge University. Professor Dasgupta was named Knight Bachelor by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for services to economics. His research interests have covered welfare and development economics; the economics of technological change; population, environmental, and resource economics; the theory of games; and the economics of undernutrition.

Dr. Jared Diamond, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, UCLA School of Health, and Professor of Geography, UCLA. Diamond's formal training is in physiology and membrane biophysics. He has also pursued a parallel career in ecology and evolutionary biology. A recent outgrowth of Diamond's evolutionary studies has been in the area of human history. In 1988, his book Guns, Germs, and Steel won both the Pulitzer prize for general non-fiction and Britain's Science Book Prize. He was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1999.

Dr. Nora Lustig, President of the Universidad de las Americas, Puebla, Mexico. As a researcher, Lustig has focused on the field of development economics with particular emphasis on the Mexican economy, the causes of poverty and inequality, labor markets and living standards, economic crises, the costs of adjustment and social protection, and public policies for the reduction of poverty. Lustig has also conducted research in the area of economic integration and the implications of NAFTA. Her work has largely focused on Latin America.

Dr. Peter H. Raven, Director, Missouri Botanical Garden. Dr. Raven is one of the world’s leading botanists and advocates of conservation and biodiversity. In 2001 he received from the President of the United States the National Medal of Science, which is the highest award for scientific accomplishment in this country.

Dr. Mary Robinson, Executive Director, The Ethical Globalization Initiative. Robinson served as a the President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002.

Prof. Daniel Schrag, Director, Laboratory for Geochemical Oceanography; Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University. Schrag studies climate and climate change over the broadest range of Earth history. He is currently creating integrated models of climate change and economic stability for developing countries. In 2000, he was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow.

Mr. George Soros, President and Chairman, Soros Fund Management LLC; Chairman, Open Society Institute. Soros is the founder of a network of philanthropic organizations that are active in more than 50 countries. Based primarily in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union—but also in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the United States—these foundations are dedicated to building and maintaining the infrastructure and institutions of an open society.

Dr. Harold Varmus, President, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Varmus is a graduate of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and now serves as a trustee of Columbia University. He served as the Director of the National Institute of Health, and authored an introduction to the genetic basis of cancer for a general audience. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1989.

Dr. Walter C. Willett, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, and Chair of the Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Willett is a co-investigator of the Nurses' Health Study I, which compiled information about cancer and cardiovascular disease, and Nurses' Health Study II, designed to examine the association between lifestyle and nutritional factors and the occurrence of breast cancer and other major illnesses.

Dr. Edward O. Wilson, Pellegrino University Research Professor, Emeritus, Harvard University. Dr Wilson is a preeminent biological theorist. Two of his 21 books have been awarded Pulitzer prizes, one in 1978 and one in 1990. His most recent book, The Future of Life (2001), offers a plan for saving Earth's biological heritage.

Two days of presentations, discussions, and special events have been arranged to immerse the Advisory Board in the Earth Institute’s programs and initiatives, and to solicit input that will inform its ten-year strategic plan. Major components of the discussions will focus on educational initiatives—at the undergraduate, masters, Ph.D., and Fellowship levels—to produce a new generation of scientists, thinkers, and leaders focused on sustainable development. There will also be discussions on Earth Institute outreach activities and development strategies, and on key cross-disciplinary research areas such as climate change, mitigation, and adaptation measures; energy; water and society; and food, agriculture, and hunger. A special lecture by Mr. Poul Nielson, European Union Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, is also planned, as is a tour of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and its earth science laboratories.

The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines—earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences—and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through its research, training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the world’s poor. For more information, visit