University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Global Landscapes Initiative

imageChief Collaboration Officer
Global Landscapes Initiative

Institute on the Environment
University of Minnesota
325 Learning and Environmental Sciences Building
1954 Buford Avenue
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108

twitter: @coolfireecology


Paul West is the Chief Collaboration Officer for the Global Landscapes Initiative, housed within the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment (IonE). His work is equal parts research and application related to increasing global food production while decreasing environmental impacts.

Paul’s research focuses on sustainably managing the earth’s ecosystems for people and nature.  His current work emphasizes the effects agricultural production on climate, water and nutrient cycles, and biodiversity. In addition to research, Paul works with leaders from agribusiness, NGOs, foundations, technology companies, and public agencies to increase accessibility and relevance of the Global Landscapes Initiative’s research.

Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, Paul worked for 17 years at The Nature Conservancy, on projects ranging from researching the effectiveness of management techniques in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems; advising large-scale conservation programs across several continents; and helping launch the Conservancy’s Upper Mississippi River and Great Rivers Partnership programs. He led several large-scale biodiversity planning efforts throughout the upper Midwest and southern Canada that now help direct over $60 million dollars of public and private funding each year in Wisconsin alone.

Paul received the Dr. Laurel Salton Clark Memorial Fellowship from the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium and NASA, and a Sponsored University Research award from IBM.  His work has been published in leading science journals, including NatureProceedings of the National Academy of Science and Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. His main hobbies revolve around rediscovering the wonders of the world through the eyes of his two young daughters.


Cassidy ES, PC West, JS Gerber, JA Foley. 2013. Redefining agricultural yields: from tonnes to people nourished per hectare. Environmental Research Letters 8:034015.

Ray DK, N Ramankutty, ND Mueller, PC West, JA Foley. 2012. Recent patterns of crop yield growth, stagnation, and collapse. Nature Communications. 3:1293 doi: 10.1038/ncomms2296

Biggs R, M Schlüter, D Biggs, EL Bohensky, S BurnSilver, G Cundill, V Dakos, T Daw, L Evans, K Kotschy, A Leitch, C Meek, A Quinlan, C Raudsepp-Hearne, M Robards, ML Schoon, L Schultz, PC West. 2012. Toward principles for enhancing the resilience of ecosystem services. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 37:421-448.

Foley, JA, N Ramankutty, KA Brauman, ES Cassidy, J Gerber, M Johnston, ND Mueller, C O’Connell, DK Ray, PC West, C Balzer, EM Bennett, SR Carpenter, J Hill, C Monfreda, S Polasky, JR Rockstrom, J Sheehan, S Siebert, D Tilman, DPM Zaks. 2011. Solutions for a cultivated planet. Nature. 478: 337-342.

Bagley J, AR Desai, PC West, and JA Foley. 2011. Modeling the Global Biophysical Influence of Land Cover on the Soil-Vegetation-Boundary Layer System. Earth Interactions. 15: 1-32. doi: 10.1175/2011EI394.1.

West PC, GT Narisma, CC Barford, CJ Kucharik, JA Foley. 2011. An alternative approach for quantifying climate regulation by ecosystems. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 9: 126-133.

West PC, HK Gibbs, C Monfreda, J Wagner, C Barford, SR Carpenter, and JA Foley. 2011. Reply to Vermeulen and Wollenberg: Distinguishing food security and crop yields. . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108: E31-E31.

West PC, HK Gibbs, C Monfreda, J Wagner, C Barford, SR Carpenter, and JA Foley. 2010. Trading carbon for food: global comparison of carbon stocks vs. crop yields on agricultural land. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107(46): 19645-19648. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1011078107.

Biggs R, MW Diebel, D Gilroy, AM Kamarainen, MS Kornis, ND Preston, JE Schmidtz, CK Uejio, MC Van de Bogert, BC Wiedel, PC West, DPM. Zaks, SR Carpenter. 2010. Preparing for the future: teaching scenario planning at the graduate level. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 8: 267-273 doi: 10.1890/080075.

Eckman B, PC West, C Barford, G Raber. 2010. Intuitive simulation, querying, and visualization for river basin policy and management. IBM Journal of Research and Development 53(3), Paper 7, 1-18. 0018- 8646/09

Reuter M, K Lubinski, P West, D Blodgett, M Khoury. 2005. The Nature Conservancy’s approach to conserving and rehabilitating biological diversity in the Upper Mississippi River System. Arch. Hydrobiol. Suppl.155/1-4. 549-560.


The Global Landscapes Initiative is administered by the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.

Email GLI if you have questions at, or visit the contact page to send an inquiry online.