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Jessica Gurevitch appointed new forestry and natural resources department head

Jessica Gurevitch has joined the Purdue College of Agriculture as the new department head for Forestry and Natural Resources. She will also join the department’s faculty as a professor.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences/ecology, evolution and systematics from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Arizona, Gurevitch completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago. Gurevitch joined Stony Book University faculty, where she was appointed a distinguished professor in 2018. She also served as chair and co-chair of the Department of Ecology Evolution.

A plant ecologist, Gurevitch is broadly trained with interests in the environment and ecology, and natural resources and forests. After meeting department members during her interview and on several visits during the summer and fall, Gurevitch said she is eager to get to know the department and the state better. 

“This is very clearly a high-functioning department with really interesting work taking place, which makes it all the more exciting to join,” she said. “I’m very eager to visit forests across the state and to meet with those working in them and learn more about the work taking place.” 

Gurevitch said finding a path to build a much-needed new building, increasing diversity within the department and in the broader field of natural resources, and addressing the needs of FNR students are her immediate priorities. 

“I want to ensure students are receiving the most current and up-to-date education they need for the fields we are preparing them to pursue,” she said. “Broadening the base of people who are doing environmental sciences and natural resource work is crucial. By doing so, we are then broadening the knowledge of all communities.” 

The move from the east coast to the Midwest is a big change for Gurevitch, she said, after spending 37 years of her career in New York. But she is eager to make the leap. 

“I love being a part of a state university,” she said. “My education and academic career have been spent in public institutions, and it’s something I’m very proud of. I have enjoyed that about Stony Brook, and I am very enthusiastic about being at Purdue and becoming a Boilermaker!” 

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