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Last modified: Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Emilio F. Moran

Distinguished Professor -- Founders Day 2007

Distinguished Professor; James H. Rudy Professor of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
Department of Geography
College of Arts and Sciences
School of Public and Environmental Affairs
University Graduate School
Indiana University Bloomington
Appointed to IU faculty, 1975
B.A., Spring Hill College, 1968
M.A., University of Florida, 1969
Ph.D., University of Florida, 1975

As an anthropologist, Emilio Moran has always been concerned with how people and the environment interact in complex and sometimes unanticipated ways. His more than 30 years of scholarly study of that interaction have put him at the forefront of a new interdisciplinary field: environmental anthropology.

"When we think of pioneers in ecological/environmental anthropology, Dr. Moran is certainly one of them," says Robert E. Rhoades, Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Georgia. "He is addressing some of the most challenging theoretical issues that anthropology needs to address and is doing so with great rigor."

Moran's extensive work in the area of global environmental change has brought him international recognition. While studying Amazonian populations and land use in Brazil, his work with local communities led him to focus on the social causes of tropical deforestation. His research on the changing ecosystems of Amazonia has become a model for interdisciplinary collaboration, helping bridge the gap between the social and biophysical sciences.

"Indeed, in many ways he has been instrumental in not only defining and expanding our contemporary understanding of what ecological anthropology is, and should be, but also in setting standards for large-scale, integrative social science," says Jeanne Sept, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the faculties at IU Bloomington.

Moran is one of only a few anthropologists worldwide who have addressed the importance of the human dimensions of global environmental change. His research into the human causes and consequences of environmental change ultimately debunked some long-standing myths about human interaction with the environment, such as the idea that the soils of the humid tropics are uniformly poor, or that human population growth drives deforestation.

He is also widely recognized as one of the first social scientists to integrate the use of satellite remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) into anthropological research. His use of remote sensing and GIS to help map changes over time in land use practices added new technologies to traditional research methodologies, providing new insight into the dynamics of human-environment interaction.

Moran's ability to obtain funding for his work is unmatched among his peers. In the past 15 years, his research has received more than $18 million in external grant funding—an extraordinary figure for a social scientist. His research has been supported by most major grant agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Social Science Research Council. His publication record reflects his remarkable productivity, with seven books and monographs, 12 edited and co-edited volumes, and 144 research articles to his credit. He has also served on the editorial boards of 16 national and international journals and presses.

Moran has received numerous awards and honors. In 1985, he was elected as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1989, and in 1999 was elected as a Linnean Society of London Fellow. Most recently, in 2002, he received the prestigious Robert McC. Netting Award from the American Association of Geographers in recognition of his work to bridge geography and anthropology. He is also a Fellow of the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology.

Despite the demands of his intense research agenda, Moran has remained committed to educating the scholars of the future. He has established two internationally recognized research centers on the IU Bloomington campus, both of which he directs: the Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change (ACT) and the Center for the Study of Institutions, Populations, and Global Environmental Change (CIPEC). The centers, which are funded through external grants, serve as training grounds for young researchers studying global environmental change.

"Emilio Moran is more than an outstanding scholar. He is an institution builder and educational leader," says Gary D. Libecap, Donald Bren Distinguished Professor of Corporate Environmental Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "In a time of concern about global environmental change, he is bringing new insights and approaches for our understanding of the processes involved, the adaptations required, and ways in which societies can mitigate harmful effects."

His colleagues who formed the committee nominating him for distinguished rank summed up his talents: ". . . it is his ability to successfully blend analytical constructs across spatial science, population studies, ecological and environmental studies as well as anthropological perspectives and empiricism that makes his contributions to knowledge so profound and important."