Joy Zedler to retire

Receiving the Odum Lifetime Achievement Award from the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) suggested to me that I’ve done the job I was hired to do. So, I plan to retire in August 2016. Looking back over 18 years as the Leopold Chair (LC), I am grateful to all who facilitated my position. The Botany Department has been especially important, by attracting outstanding MS and PhD students. Botany--and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies--allowed me to carry out the LC mandate, namely, developing a Restoration Research Program, taking advantage of the natural resources of the Arboretum, and helping guide restoration. Graduate student researchers (see list) linked additional UW faculty to the Arboretum, by engaging thesis committee members to add expertise to our research, thereby helping us tackle land-care problems, including invasive species, sedge meadow restoration, and treating urban runoff.

During their land-based research, students helped the Arboretum fulfill its mission, “to conserve and restore Arboretum lands, advance restoration ecology, and foster the land ethic.” When students graduated, they developed careers in academia, natural resource agencies, nongovernmental conservation organizations, and private business (see attached). In their jobs, they continued to improve the practice and science of ecosystem restoration and to fulfill The Wisconsin Idea by advancing restoration well beyond the borders of the state.

The 38 graduate students, uncounted undergraduate researchers, and many Adaptive Restoration classes all helped provide the Arboretum with a strong foundation for science-based land care, a primary responsibility of the LC. Students published their work in journals and in Arboretum Leaflets (free at, and one contributed a chapter to Foundations of Restoration Ecology, 2nd edition (Palmer, Zedler & Falk, eds., in press). The work of several students appears in textbooks and in my eBook on coastal wetlands (free at More mentions of Arboretum research will appear in a 2017 review of Adaptive Restoration (invited for Estuaries and Coasts as a CERF/Odum Awardee).

What next? The view forward looks familiar—advocating science-based wetland restoration, continued work on the California Delta Independent Science Board, advising The Nature Conservancy (e.g., restoration of Ormond Beach wetlands, CA), helping the US Fish and Wildlife Service manage an endangered plant that we reintroduced to San Diego Bay 20 years ago, and advising our local Town of Dunn on how to protect Waubesa Wetlands. And, of course, helping the grandkids develop their ‘Inner Botanist.’