American Philosophical Society
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105. Physical Earth Sciences[X]
1Name:  Dr. Billie Lee Turner
 Institution:  Arizona State University
 Year Elected:  2021
 Class:  1. Mathematical and Physical Sciences
 Subdivision:  105. Physical Earth Sciences
 Residency:  Resident
 Living? :   Living
 Birth Date:  1945
Billie Lee Turner II is a geographer engaged in human-environmental science, addressing problems situated at the intersection of society and the biophysical world. These problems range from prehistory to contemporary sustainability, exemplified in three broad research topics. [1] Turner helped to establish how the ancient Maya peoples transformed their homelands, including a range of intensive agricultural practices, to sustain a large and affluent population for millennia. Ultimately, the scale of landscape changes amplified extensive drought and, combined with a diminution of economic conditions, likely contributed to the collapse of Maya city-states and the long-time depopulation of the Maya heartlands. [2] Through fieldwork with his students across the tropics, Turner helped to enlarge and apply the concept of induced intensification to understand changes among subsistence and semi-subsistence farmers, foremost in the tropical world. Building from theoretical constructs of E. Boserup, he added an environmental component that amplifies or attenuates the relationship between demands on households and the intensity of cultivation that follows. [3] Turner assisted in the development of land system science, addressing land-use and-cover change as a human-environmental system. His interdisciplinary research teams demonstrated how remote sensing, economics, ecology, climate, and spatial analysis can be fused to model the drivers of land change and to address the vulnerability of these changes on the two subsystems in question. The outlets for this research range across multiple research communities, from archaeology, history, anthropology and geography to paleo-history, ecology, and sustainability. They include interdisciplinary journals as Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Ambio, and Nature Sustainability, as well as such book/edited book offerings as The Earth as Transformed by Human Action (Cambridge Press 1990) and Cultivated Landscapes of Middle American on the Eve of Conquest (Oxford Press, 2001). Turner has participated in a large range of national and international research panels and committees charged with developing and leading research activities. Examples include: Chair, Core Project Planning Committee of Global Land-Use/Cover Change of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and the International Human Dimensions Programme (IGBP & IHDP); Scientific Steering, Land-use/Cover Change, IGBP & IHDP; Synthesis Committee, IGBP; Scientific Steering Committee, Global Land Project, IGBP & IHDP; Committee for Research on Global Change, Social Science Research Council; Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change, National Research Council (NRC); Committee on Grand Challenges in Environmental Science, NRC; Board on Earth Sciences and Resources, NRC; Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability, National Academy of Sciences (NAS); Steering Committee, Ecosystem Services, NAS; Science Committee, DIVERSITAS. Turner received BA and MA degrees in geography in 1968 and 1969, respectively, from the University of Texas at Austin. After two years of military service, he completed his Ph.D. in geography in 1974 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was an Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1975-76, and Research Associate (1976) and Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Oklahoma (1977-1980). With a move to the Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, he served as: Assistant Professor 1980-81, Associate Professor 1981-85, and Full Professor 1985-2008; Milton P. & Alice C. Higgins Professor of Environment and Society, 1995-2008; Director, Graduate School of Geography, 1983-88, 1997-98, and 2004-08, Director of the George Perkins Marsh Institute, 1994-97; and Distinguished Research Professor, 2008-pr. In 2008 Turner moved to Arizona State University, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning & School of Sustainability as the Gilbert F. White Professor of Environment and Society, with subsequent appointments as a Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, 2011, and Regents’ Professor, 2016. In addition, he is Adjunct Faculty of Graduate Studies, School of Resource and Environment, Dalhousie University. Turner’s research contributions have received multiple awards and honors from different disciplines, foundations, and organizations, including: Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (1981-82); Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (1994-95); Distinguished Research Honors, American Association of Geographers (1995); Centenary Medal, Royal Scottish Geographical Society (1996), Sustainability Science Award, Ecological Society of America (2002), and Outstanding Alumnus Award, University of Texas (2018). He is a member of National Academy of Sciences (1995) and American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1998), and a Fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (2002), Massachusetts Academy of Sciences (2008), and Fellow, American Association of Geographers (2020).
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