Stephen Porder, recipient of the prestigious Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair 2021, was invited by Jérôme Gaillardet to join the GEE (External Envelopes Geochemistry) team at the IPGP in September 2020. The Tocqueville Chair allows an American researcher to spend six months researching and teaching at a French higher education and research institution. Porder was originally scheduled to start the Chair in September, but the start was delayed due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Stephen is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. His work focuses on understanding the limits of growth in tropical rainforests, the environmental challenges of industrial agriculture, and the social, economic and ecological barriers to large-scale tropical forest reforestation. His work at the intersection of geology, geomorphology and ecology led to projects at the Luquillo Critical Zone Observatory in Puerto Rico, where his collaboration with Jérôme Gaillardet began.
"My research lies at the intersection of ecology, geology and biogeochemistry and focuses primarily on understanding nutrient cycling in tropical landscapes," explains Stephen Porder. "The tropics are experiencing the most rapid population growth and land use change on the planet. With three billion more people worldwide in the next century, mostly located in these fragile areas, it is vital that we better understand how these systems will respond to these anthropogenic shifts."
In addition to his primary appointment, Stephen serves as Brown's Assistant Provost for Sustainability. In that role, he is spearheading the elimination of fossil fuels from campus facilities via electrification of heating and transport systems and the use of 100% renewable electricity. He is working with other universities and external partners to accelerate the transition to zero carbon emissions in order to slow climate change.
"I am very pleased to have the opportunity to continue this work at the IPGP in collaboration with Jérôme Gaillardet and his team. The research conducted within the GEE team is mainly focused on geological, geochemical and hydrological issues; the aim is to integrate ecological issues and techniques into the study of the Earth's critical zone."
The Franco-American Fulbright Commission for Academic and Cultural Exchange (CFA), in partnership with the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MESRI) and the U.S. Department of State, created the Franco-American Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair Award in 2005, on the occasion of the bicentenary of the birth of Alexis de Tocqueville and the centenary of the birth of Senator J. William Fulbright.
The objective of this Chair is to create, develop or strengthen Franco-American cooperation in areas and themes that are essential to the future of our societies and to mutual understanding between our peoples.
The Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair Award aims to strengthen collaborative research between the United States and France. The program provides an opportunity for a French university to invite an American professor/researcher to meet with French peers, organize and participate in conferences, and interact with doctoral and graduate students in his or her discipline. The American laureate will teach master's and doctoral students, pursue his or her research, and organize and participate in conferences and seminars related to his or her field of expertise.