Ecosystem researcher awarded Faculty Fellow by Texas A&M AgriLife Research

COLLEGE STATION – Dr. David Briske, a professor of ecosystem sciences and management, is one of two Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists who received the Faculty Fellow award at the Texas A&M AgriLife Conference Jan. 8 in College Station.

AgriLife Research established the Faculty Fellows recognition in 1998 to recognize outstanding and productive faculty who have contributed to the scholarly creation and dissemination of new knowledge through exceptional leadership and grantsmanship.

Briske’s nomination, submitted by Dr. David Baltensperger, interim head of the ecosystem sciences and management department, states he has been an excellent research scientist from the outset of his career, designing novel experiments, mentoring highly successful graduate students and frequently publishing in top-tier science journals.

However, Baltensperger said, Briske’s research performance, scholarship and impact began to soar in 2000 as he investigated several high-profile research topics in cooperation with national and international scientists and labs.

Briske has exhibited academic leadership by coordinating research teams in the investigation of complex issues such as assessment of ecosystem resilience, adoption of social/ecological systems, and the ecological and social consequences of climate change, Baltensperger said.

Briske investigated the physiology and population ecology of grasses in the first portion of his career, producing insight into the ecology of grasses. His research is widely regarded as the information source for defoliation responses and clonal biology of the bunchgrass growth form.

More recently, the nomination stated, Briske’s research emphasized ecological resilience and climate change. The framework he authored on resilience-based ecosystem management in 2008 was adopted by major land management agencies to improve protocols for ecosystem management. He is now leading the first research group to strengthen this resilience-based protocol with data retrieved from nine long-term vegetation records throughout the western U.S.

Briske also was instrumental in global-change biology research in 2003, when he and a colleague developed an experimental field facility at Texas A&M University to investigate responses of regional savanna ecosystems to increased atmospheric warming and intensified summer drought.

This research provides some of the first experimental demonstrations of the importance of competitive plant interactions in mediating ecosystem responses to climate change and was highlighted in several invited presentations.

Briske is currently part of a research team commissioned by the International Society for Range Management to assess the ecological and social impacts of climate change on North American rangelands and to prepare mission statements to guide the organization on this future challenge.

Briske has served as editor-in-chief of “Rangeland Ecology and Management” for the past five years. He is currently serving as the academic coordinator for a national assessment of rangeland conservation programs sponsored by the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.

His research accomplishments have been supported by a grant program that has solicited more than $3.7 million in grants, including 15 major federal grants. He has been major advisor to two visiting scholars, five postdoctoral, 11 doctorate and five master’s students.

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