Catalyst Winter 2016


UCS Welcomes New Board Chair Dr. Anne Kapuscinski

Anne Kapuscinski joins former board chairs Kurt Gottfried (center) and James McCarthy (right) at the UCS board meeting in October.
Photo: © UCS/Audrey Eyring

Anne Kapuscinski became the fourth chair of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ board of directors late last year, as James McCarthy stepped down from his six-year tenure. Kapuscinski is a professor of environmental studies and the Sherman Fairchild distinguished professor of sustainability science at Dartmouth College.

“UCS is an incredibly effective organization,” she says. “The staff’s insight and analysis lead to real change in policy. I’m honored to chair the board.”

Kapuscinski has been a scientific advisor to the U.S. secretary of agriculture under three administrations, as well as to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and state of Minnesota. In addition to her teaching and advisory duties, she serves as the inaugural editor-in-chief of Sustainability Transitions, a domain of the online journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene.

Kapuscinski’s field of sustainability science addresses the interactions between the natural world and social institutions such as economics and government policy. Her own research focuses on integrated food and energy systems, including a project examining microalgae to develop more sustainable feeds for aquaculture—the world’s fastest-growing food sector. “You can’t get to a truly effective solution to any problem if you only look at one piece of it. That’s what drives me to work on political and economic systems,” she says.

As a professor, Kapuscinski is excited to help connect UCS with a younger generation of scientists, whose enthusiasm for sustainability she witnesses firsthand in her students’ research. “I’ve seen a major upswing of student involvement in these issues,” she says. “I feel I’m well positioned to help UCS expand its reach to younger scientists.”

It didn’t take long for Kapuscinski herself to connect with UCS after first meeting some of the staff and board at a 2002 workshop on genetically modified organisms. “I came away with a strong impression: what an amazing group of people, so grounded in science, such great communicators, such heart, and so professional,” she says. She joined the board a few months later.