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Author and environmental steward to offer this year’s Davis-Michael Distinguished Lecture

The Larry Nielsen West Virginia University Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design will welcome Larry Nielsen, professor of natural resources at North Carolina State University, as this year’s Davis-Michael Distinguished Lecturer.

Nielsen will present “What do the great conservationists of the past and present have to say to us today?” at 11 a.m. April, 4, in G06 Agricultural Sciences Building.

“For those of us interested in the environment, these are stressful times,” Nielsen said. “Will environmental regulations be gutted? Will funding for environmental programs be eliminated? What can we do about it? One thing we can do is turn to the great conservationists of the past for inspiration.”

Based on his new book Nature’s Allies: Eight Conservationists Who Changed Our World, Nielsen will discuss the lives of conservationists like John Muir, Rachel Carson and Chico Mendes while demonstrating that passion and persistence can make anyone an environmental hero.

Nielsen holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree in fisheries biology from the University of Missouri, and a doctorate in fisheries biology with emphases in ecology and aquatic sciences from Cornell University.

His distinguished career in higher education includes serving as a faculty member and chair of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences at Virginia Tech from 1977-1994; director of the School of Forest Resources at Penn State from 1994-2001; dean of the School of Forest Resources at NC State from 2001-2004 and provost and executive chancellor from 2005-2010.

Since returning to the faculty in 2010, Nielsen has served as a consultant on higher education planning and leadership for universities and private companies, including developing a plan for a new university in the Republic of Georgia.

He has taught scores of courses in natural resources and related topics, including study abroad courses in the Czech Republic, South Africa, Costa Rica and England. For two decades, he taught short courses for the U.S. Forest Service on communication skills and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on strategic planning and community-based management.

In 2013, he authored a retrospective memoir of his administrative career, titled “Provost,” published by Stylus Press and chosen as one of the top books on higher education leadership that year.

Nielsen will also lead a seminar on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill titled “Seven Years after the BP Oil Spill – Environmental Disaster or Just a Bump in the Road?” at 3 p.m. April 3, in the Blue Ballroom of the Evansdale Residential Complex. During the lecture, he will discuss the spill and its context, the impacts and the upshot.

Both lectures are free and open to the public.