UGA’s Center for Integrative Conservation Research has tapped Nate Nibbelink to lead its efforts to support innovative approaches to conservation and sustainability challenges.
Nibbelink, an associate professor of spatial ecology and geographic information science in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, has been on the center’s executive committee since 2009 and has been serving as the graduate coordinator for the Integrative Conservation doctoral program, known as ICON.
Nibbelink succeeds Pete Brosius, who has been the director of the center since it was founded in 2007 to support and promote conservation research, bringing researchers from different academic fields across UGA together, including the social and biological sciences.
As director of the center, Nibbelink said he will focus on broadening faculty connections across campus and work to increase the amount of interdisciplinary research and instruction at UGA.
“We hope to provide small grants to catalyze collaborations that are likely to bring new ideas and perspectives to bear on difficult conservation and sustainability problems,” said Nibbelink, whose current research investigates the influence of human development and climate change on animal movement and habitat use.
Nik Heynen, a professor in the geography department of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, will succeed Nibbelink as director and graduate coordinator of the ICON program, which was established in 2011 by center-affiliated faculty members to attract the most competitive students to work with faculty on contemporary sustainability challenges.
These challenges range from the effects of sea level rise on both species and coastal residents in Georgia to the trade-offs associated with the sustainability of grassland ecosystems and the livelihoods of Maasai people in Kenya.
One of Heynen’s primary goals as the new ICON graduate coordinator will be to build a strong funding base and recruit exceptional doctoral students from the U.S. and abroad. Heynen’s research focuses on urban political ecology. Since 2010 he has been the director of the Coweeta Listening Project and actively involved in the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research Project.