Jeffrey Dukes’ research touches on some of today’s most pressing environmental concerns, such as the impacts of climate change and invasive species. He heads up the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment, a Purdue-led initiative studying the concrete implications of climate change for people and nature. As the director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center (PCCRC), director of the Boston Area Climate Experiment and the leader of the INTERFACE Research Coordination Network, Dukes, a professor of forestry and natural resources, is part of a national network of leading climate change scholars and scientists. The PCCRC brings together researchers across 27 departments at Purdue to address the complex and interdisciplinary challenge of climate change Most recently, his work highlights the importance of a variety of ecological processes for Earth’s future climate.
Dukes’ research findings have altered perceptions about how ecosystems affect the rate of climate change. For example, a large-scale experiment by Dukes found grasslands don’t act as a climate change buffer, as originally supposed. Dukes has previously calculated that replacing fossil fuels with biofuels would require at least a quarter of the earth’s plant growth, raising questions about the viability and sustainability of a world powered by biofuels.
From a childhood spent in Northern California to a two-year postdoc in Salt Lake City, Dukes’ life and work have taken him to diverse and beautiful natural landscapes. Through a devotion to environmental sciences and conservation biology, his work not only informs the scientific discussion on climate change but helps preserve the landscapes he has come to love.