As of Feb. 24, in an effort to bring a new vision to the Cornell University Center for the Environment (CfE), Prof. Mark Bain, natural resources, was declared its new director. Bain succeeds Prof. Max Pfeffer, the CfE’s acting director, who was named associate director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station in 2001. Pfeffer was in charge from January 2002 to February 2003 while they searched for a new leader.
“The administration wanted new leadership. They wanted to overhaul the whole place. I was on a committee involved with charting a new direction,” Bain said.
After group discussions about potential candidates, spearheaded by the CfE’s Vice Provost for Research, Robert Richardson, Bain was chosen.
“Mark brings to the Center for the Environment a fresh perspective on the integration of research, education and outreach that our college endorses and values. His extensive knowledge of environmental policies and issues are essential for the promotion of a sustainable relationship between the environment and a quality of life for people here and around the world,” said Susan A. Henry, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The CfE’s current goal is to attract new programs, while its six established programs have been reassigned to other departments around the University.
“The programs will still be at Cornell — it’s just not something I will have to worry about,” Bain said.
Bain’s responsibilities as director will include promoting research in environmental science and applying this understanding to the real world.
Several proposals are under way already, some of which include an ecosystem study on Lake Victoria and the establishment of a national ecology observatory. Bain plans to see what the faculty wants pursued.
“Cornell has great talent and diverse disciplinary capacity to build environmental knowledge, and we now need to craft interdisciplinary collaborations across a spectrum of fields to meet today’s challenges. It is the aim of the CfE that Cornell environmental research achievements be communicated to, and recognized by, governments and societies around the world,” Bain said.
As director, Bain will have the opportunity to explore research projects he deems significant with teams of faculty from various university departments.
“I started getting into organizing the faculty with team-type studies, combining English, ecology, and social sciences,” said Bain, who has been involved in with the CfE for two years.
Bain earned his bachelor’s degree in wildlife resources from West Virginia University in 1977, and went on to earn his Ph.D. in fisheries biology from the University of Massachusetts.
He joined the Cornell faculty in 1991 as an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources. Later, he was appointed assistant leader of the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Cornell.
“I evolved from my own fish research…I went from being a fish person to being more of a research team organizing on large scale environmental issues,” Bain said. The CfE will give Bain the opportunity to work on a larger scale in pursuit of larger goals.
“He won’t need much advice. He is well-poised to lead Cornell in area environmental research. He’ll do a great job,” Pfeffer said.
Archived article by Jessica Liebman