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Social and Biological Impacts of Rising Seas and Reduced Lake Levels


Ben Strauss serves as Chief Operating Officer and Director of the Program on Sea Level Rise at Climate Central. In the latter capacity, he has published multiple scientific papers, testified before the U.S. Senate, authored the Surging Seas report, and led development of the SurgingSeas.orgcoastal flood risk tool, leading to front-page coverage in the New York Times and Washington Post, appearances on NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS and NPR national programming, and extensive coverage nationwide, from AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, USA Today and the LA Times, to many hundreds of local news outlets, to numerous editorials and op eds.

In earlier roles at Climate Central, Dr. Strauss served as interim Executive Director for one year, Associate Director and staff scientist. A founding board member of, he previously helped launch the Environmental Leadership Program. Prior to that, Dr. Strauss worked for Abt Associates, co-organized the Campus Earth Summit, and authored a report on college environmental education and practices for the Nathan Cummings Foundation. He holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University, an M.S. in Zoology from the University of Washington, and a B.A. in Biology from Yale University.

Anthony Oliver-Smith is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Florida. He also held the Munich Re Foundation Chair on Social Vulnerability at the United Nations University Institute on Environment and Human Security in Bonn, Germany from 2005-9. He has done anthropological research and consultation on issues relating to disasters and involuntary displacement and resettlement in Peru, Honduras, India, Brazil, Jamaica, Mexico, Japan, and the United States. He is the author of The Martyred City: Death and Rebirth in the Andes (1986; 1992), the co-editor of Involuntary Migration and Resettlement: The Problems and Responses of Dislocated People (1982) with Art Hansen, and the co-editor of Catastrophe and Culture (2002) and The Angry Earth (1999) with Susanna Hoffman. His most recent publications include Defying Displacement: Grass Roots Resistance and the Critique of Development (author, 2010) and Development and Dispossession (editor, 2009) He also has written over 75 book chapters and journal articles on disasters and various forms of population displacement.

Phil Willink joined Shedd in 2012 as Senior Research Biologist for the aquarium’s Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research, leading Shedd’s efforts to develop a comprehensive evaluation of the state’s list of threatened and endangered species through on-the-ground population assessments. Dr. Willink has more than 20 years of experience in research, teaching, and global expeditions studying fish biodiversity as well as endangered and invasive species. His work includes studies on the Great Lakes, examining the genetics of invasive species and the impact of development and invasive species on native fish populations, as well as a project to publish a field guide of Chicago lakefront fishes. Dr. Willink holds a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Michigan.

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