Ruth DeFries

Most Influential Person

American geographer

Why Is Ruth DeFries Influential?

Ruth DeFries is a University Professor of ecology and sustainable development at Columbia University. She earned a B.A. in Earth science from Washington University before earning a Phd in geography and environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University. She is an environmental geographer focusing on ways to monitor changing environmental conditions remotely.

Her research has yielded quantifiable evidence of how human land use practices are impacting vital ecosystems and biodiversity. Her goal is always to promote the use of scientific data to inform policy, evident in her work with the Environmental Defense Fund, Science for Nature and People, and the High Carbon Stock study.

She was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Genius Grant in 2007 and has been a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences since 2006. She has authored or contributed to more than 100 publications related to her work, such as Impacts of Tropical Fires on Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Land Use and Conservation in the Tropics.

She was honored with the Breakthrough Paradigm Award by The Breakthrough Institute in 2015. Before becoming a University Professor at Columbia, she was the Denning Family Professor of Sustainable Development for Columbia University’s Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology.

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Featured in Top Influential Earth Scientists Today

According to Wikipedia, Ruth S. DeFries is an environmental geographer who specializes in the use of remote sensing to study Earth's habitability under the influence of human activities, such as deforestation, that influence regulating biophysical and biogeochemical processes. She was one of 24 recipients of the 2007 MacArthur Fellowship, and was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences in 2006.

Ruth DeFries's Published Works

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