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Jon Foley

Dr. Jonathan Foley is the Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences, where he is also the William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair. In this role, Foley leads the greenest museum on the planet and one of the most future-focused scientific institutions in the world.

A world-renowned scientist, his work focuses on the sustainability of our planet and the ecosystems and natural resources we depend on. Throughout his career, he and his colleagues have contributed to our understanding of worldwide changes in ecosystems, land use and climate, global food security, and the sustainability of the world’s resources. This work has led Foley to become a trusted advisor to governments, environmental groups, foundations, non-governmental organizations, and business leaders around the world.

Foley joined the Academy in 2014, after spending over two decades leading interdisciplinary, university-based programs focused on solving global environmental issues. Most recently, he was the director of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota, where he was also a professor and McKnight Presidential Chair of Global Environment and Sustainability. He is also a former professor of the University of Wisconsin, where he founded the Climate, People and Environment Program (CPEP) and the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE).

Foley has published over 130 scientific articles, including many highly cited works in Science, Nature, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2014, Thomson Reuters named him a Highly Cited Researcher in ecology and environmental science, placing him among the top 1 percent most cited global scientists.

He has also written many popular articles, op-eds, and essays in publications like National Geographic, the New York Times, Scientific American, The Guardian, Ensia, Yale’s Environment 360, among others. His research has also been featured on the covers of National Geographic, Nature, and Scientific American.

A noted science communicator, Foley’s presentations on global environmental issues have been featured at hundreds of venues, including the Aspen Environmental Forum, the Chautauqua Institution, and TED.

Foley has won numerous awards and honors, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (awarded by President Bill Clinton); the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development Award; the J.S. McDonnell Foundation's 21st Century Science Award; an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship; and the Sustainability Science Award from the Ecological Society of America. In 2014, he was named winner of the prestigious Heinz Award for the Environment.

Originally from Maine, Foley enjoys a wide range of outdoor activities, including nature photography, backyard astronomy, gardening, kayaking, hiking, and exploring new places—often with his two daughters leading the way. He currently lives with his family in San Francisco.

Read more on Dr. Jonathan Foley's blog: From Our Director