WASHINGTON, D.C. – Three Forest Service scientists were promoted recently to Senior Scientists in acknowledgement of their contributions to their respective fields of research. A Senior Scientist position is comparable in status to a position in the Senor Executive Service. USDA caps the number of Senior Scientist positions across all the department’s agencies at 100.
Michael Keller is a research physical scientist with the International Institute of Tropical Forestry in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. He was promoted to Senior Scientist status for improving understanding of tropical forest structure and function, and mass and energy exchanges between tropical forests and the atmosphere. He is an internationally recognized expert on land use change in the Amazon region, where he is currently studying the effects of forest degradation caused by logging, fire and fragmentation. Keller was the U.S. scientific leader for the Large-Scale Biosphere Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia for ten years and then served as the project scientist for the National Ecological Observatory Network, where he guided the scientific development of the observatory through the National Science Foundation review process approving observatory construction. He then returned to his work in the Amazon as the technical leader of the Sustainable Landscapes Program, a principal component of the government-to-government partnership relating to the U.S.-Brazil Memorandum of Understanding on climate change.
William J. Massman is a research meteorologist in the Rocky Mountain Research Station. He plans and conducts research to quantify the fundamental physical processes that govern the exchange of momentum, heat, and atmospheric trace gases between the atmosphere and the biosphere with a particular focus on the modeling ecosystems’ responses to disturbance associated with fire and changes in the climate and the chemical composition of the atmosphere. In the broadest terms, his research focuses on the atmospheric surface layer, where much of the human influence on the biosphere and the associated exchange processes take place. This is an extremely complex and broad area of science, combining elements of several disciplines including fluid dynamics, atmospheric turbulence, soil physics, plant physiology, hydrology, and instrumentation physics. Knowledge exists in all of these areas, but to make progress in understanding the processes governing surface layer exchange, Massman has synthesized and extended existing knowledge from one discipline to another and developed entirely new concepts.
Daniel G. Neary is a supervisory research soil scientist in the Air, Water, and Aquatic Environments Program with the Rocky Mountain Research Station. Neary leads the Southwest Watershed Science Team that focuses on fluvial, geomorphic, hydrologic, edaphic, and ecological science. The team’s long-term data collected within experimental and National Forests has helped elucidate the immediate and persistent consequences of forest management, the impacts of wildfires on floods and erosion, and the response of western watersheds to climate change. The team is a multi‑disciplinary cooperative research partnership between the Rocky Mountain Station, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. Neary collaborates with federal, state, and tribal agencies, university researchers, and international agencies including the International Energy Agency Bioenergy Program, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, CSIRO Australia and the SCION New Zealand Forest Research Institute. He is a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy.