CAREER Award Will Help Professor Predict How Species Respond to Climate Change

August 10, 2018

Paleoecology Professor Jessica Blois recently became the campus’s 19th recipient of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award.

The NSF describes as the CAREER as its “most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their organizations.”

The award provides Blois with $782,449 over the next five years to pursue an agenda that includes research and outreach.

Blois will use the CAREER to study how species respond to climate change. Her ultimate goal is to develop models that allow scientists to predict how animals and the environments they inhabit will change in response to the warming climate.

“We’re on the doorstep of a huge shift in global climate, and science and society are grappling with how exactly species are going to respond,” Blois said. “Species might go extinct, move locations or change behaviors. They can respond in lots of different ways.”

To understand what might happen in the future, Blois will look to the past. She’ll examine how animals responded to the last major climate shift, which began some 21,000 years ago as the planet warmed and the glacial ice sheets that covered much of the Earth’s surface began to recede. It was also around that time that some of the most well-known megafauna — mammoths, saber-toothed cats and giant sloths, among others — went extinct.

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