Rosina Bierbaum is an ecologist working at the environment-science-policy interface, particularly on climate change, adaptation, and development issues. She grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and became interested in tackling pollution at an early age, inspired by Rachel Carson’s books. She graduated from Boston College with a BA in English and a BS in Biology, and earned a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from S.U.N.Y, Stony Brook. A Congressional fellowship altered her goal of working on symbioses in marine systems, but began a 20-year career in the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government, culminating in leading the first Environment Division of the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP). Translating science into useable information has become a lifelong goal. She is Dean Emerita of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, and holds positions at both the Universities of Michigan and Maryland. She served on President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), and as an Adaptation Fellow at the World Bank. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Ecological Society of America, and Sigma Xi.

Research Interests

Rosina Bierbaum has been involved in science assessments for over 30 years. Her current research seeks to bridge the academic/practitioner divide to help communities and development agencies utilize 'best practices' and 'lessons learned' from implementing environmental projects in the face of climate change. She chairs the Science and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of the Global Environmental Facility, which reviews projects designed to implement multilateral environmental agreements. Currently, STAP is designing climate-screening guidelines, reviewing criteria to ensure durability of project outcomes, and encouraging development of core indicators. Rosina is also a Science Adviser to the Global Commission on Adaptation.

At the Office of Technology Assessment, she worked on nine environmental assessments to inform pending legislation and led the only Congressionally mandated analysis on climate adaptation Preparing for an Uncertain Climate. At OSTP, she oversaw the development of the First National Climate Assessment, and the first 10-year Global Change Research Plan. Subsequently, she chaired the Adaptation chapter of the Third National Climate Assessment, and PCAST reports on Environmental Capital, Drinking Water Safety, and Private Sector Adaptation. She co-chaired the World Development report Development and Climate Change, and Confronting Climate Change: Avoiding the Unmanageable and Managing the Unavoidable prepared at the request of the Commission on Sustainable Development. As Dean at the University of Michigan, she created five new dual degree MS programs, and designed interdisciplinary core curricula.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 64: Human Environmental Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology