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DAA: Leslie Holland-Bartels

Leslie Holland-Bartels

Leslie Holland-Bartels


Anchorage, AK


Imagine revealing, and preserving, the untapped environmental wealth of Alaska — treasures spanning nearly 592,000 square miles of largely unmapped terrain. Such is the quest embraced by Leslie Holland-Bartels, who balances positions as Deputy Regional Director/Western Region and Director of the Alaska Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey. She and her corps of nearly 300 scientists scrutinize all facets of the Alaskan “frontier,” from interpreting and disseminating information on earthquakes and volcanoes to modeling international populations of herons and waterfowl. Holland-Bartels assumes integral roles in guiding the state’s large-scale mining initiatives, as well as planning Alaska’s gas pipeline. “Our state has worldrecord mineral deposits and an enormous wealth of oil and gas,” she explains. “Sound, defensible scientific facts are critical in order for policymakers to balance their decisions between the country’s economic needs and preserving the environment for future generations.” Balance and personal commitment have long mapped Holland-Bartels’ career path. After earning her Ph.D. from Purdue in 1980, she joined the National Fishery Research Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where, under her leadership, a new science group developed a research program to assess impacts of Upper Mississippi River management on endangered species. From 1995 to 2002, she served as Chief Scientist for the $6 million integrated multi-agency study to determine the continuing impact and potential recovery of near-shore marine ecosystems of Prince William Sound following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Professional challenges aside, Alaska’s rich landscape also provides the perfect venue for a favorite hobby, fly-fishing. “I’m not very good,” she admits, “but the state is so over-populated with fish, anyone can catch something.” True to her environmentalist bent, however, she “catches” with a barbless hook. “I felt strongly about learning science in a practical context, and Purdue University combined an excellent academic reputation with the flexibility to plot my own course. Graduating from Purdue has carried weight throughout my career.”