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MBL Names Melillo Distinguished Scientist, Promotes Neill to Senior Scientist

Jerry Melillo

Chris Neill


The MBL has honored Jerry Melillo by naming him Distinguished Scientist, a title held by only three scientists in the laboratory’s 122-year history. MBL director Gary Borisy praised Melillo, saying that he is “not only an outstanding scientist, but also an advocate with genuine concern for the conservation of nature, and a highly valued colleague and mentor.”

Melillo has been at the Ecosystems Center since 1976, serving as co-director until last year. He is also a professor of Biology at Brown University. His research emphasizes the impacts of human activities on the biogeochemistry of terrestrial ecosystems. He has studied carbon and nitrogen cycling in ecosystems across the globe, including arctic shrublands in northern Sweden, temperate forests in North America, and tropical forests and pastures in the Amazon Basin of Brazil. An important national report, Global Climate Change: Its Impacts in the United States, issued in 2009, was co-chaired and co-edited by Melillo with Thomas R. Karl and Thomas C. Peterson, both of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Ashville, North Carolina. The report was commissioned by the U. S. Government’s Climate Change Science Program to summarize what is known about the science of climate change and the impacts of climate change on the United States.

Christopher Neill was promoted to senior scientist. MBL Director Gary Borisy noted Neill’s “high quality and diversity of research, along with his “scientific accomplishments and leadership in collaborative research, education and public outreach.”

Neill is currently a Bullard Fellow in Amazon Ecology at the Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts. In 2007, he was a Fulbright Fellowship in Brazil at the University of São Paulo, Piracicaba. Neill is also associate professor at Brown University and directs the environmental component of the MBL’s Logan Science Journalism Program. He has been at the Ecosystems Center since 1991 when he joined the staff as postdoctoral scientist.

Neill studies how changes in land use and other human activities alter the structure of ecosystems. His research in the Amazon investigates the ecological consequences of deforestation and the rapid expansion of soybean cultivation. He also works on the ecology and restoration of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in coastal Massachusetts, where rapid increases in residential development threaten ecosystems that contain high and unique biological diversity.