Rosina M. Bierbaum, Ph.D.


Ph.D. Ecology and Evolution, 1985, State University of New York, Stony Brook

B.S. Biology, 1974, Boston College

B.A. English, 1974, Boston College

Rosina’s research interests lie at the interface of science and policy--principally on issues related to climate change adaptation and mitigation at the national and international levels.  She teaches courses on Climate Policy.  She has been named the new Chair of the Global Environment Facility’s Science and Technical Advisory Panel, and serves on President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).  Rosina is an Adaptation Fellow at the World Bank, leads the Adaptation Chapter for the Congressionally-mandated U.S. National Climate assessment, and is review editor for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. She serves on the Boards of several Foundations and NGOs and has lectured on every continent. Bierbaum served in both the executive and legislative branches of Government for two decades--as the Senate-confirmed director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Environment Division, and in multiple capacities at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment.  Rosina was Dean of SNRE from 2001-2011, during which time she oversaw the creation of a new undergraduate Program in the Environment, five new dual Master’s degrees across campus, and tripled interdisciplinary research in the School.

Bierbaum videos (lectures and presentations):

2012 Investor Summit on Climate Risk and Energy Solutions (Jan. 12, 2012)
PCAST Biodiversity report presentation (March 8, 2011) | Download Biodiversity Report to the President
7th Annual Cantor (U-M) Lecture on Intellectual Diversity (April 13, 2010)

National Climate Adaptation Summit (May 25-27, 2010)

Coping with Climate Change National Summit (May 8-10, 2007)

Executive summary: Download the proceeding's executive summary written by SNRE Dean Rosina M. Bierbaum

1st Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability (Oct. 17, 2001)

Bierbaum professional background:

Dr. Rosina Bierbaum is a Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy with appointments in both the School of Natural Resources & Environment and the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. She served as Dean of the School of Natural Resources & Environment from October 2001-October 2011. In that decade, she orchestrated  the creation of a new undergraduate Program in the Environment; enhanced interdisciplinary teaching and research by successfully recruiting twenty-five new faculty to the School, developed new Master's tracks to link business, engineering and natural resources; tripled research activity; and expanded the mission of the School to include global change.

In April 2009, President Barack Obama named Bierbaum to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).  PCAST consists of 21 of the nation's leading scientists and engineers. They advise the President directly to help the administration formulate policy in areas where understanding of science, technology and innovation is key to forming responsible and effective policy. She chaired their recent report "Sustaining Environmental Capital: Protecting Society and the Economy," which has led to increased coordination on valuation of ecosystem services across the Federal agencies and the creation of new bioinformatics tools to make data accessible to the public. 

In 2010, Bierbaum was appointed to the Federal Advisory Committee of the U.S. National Climate Assessment, and serves as the Chair of the Adaptation Chapter for that Congressionally-mandated effort. She is also a Review Editor for the IPCC Working Group II "Foundations for Decisionmaking", in the ongoing 5th Assessment Report.

Bierbaum was selected in April 2008 by the World Bank to co-direct its prestigious World Development Report 2010, which focuses on climate change and development for the first time.  This report has served as the foundation for subsequent Bank-wide strategies on energy and environment and the development of a public climate data portal.  In 2011, Bierbaum was named as one of the World Bank's first Fellows, in the area of Adaptation, a role she continues in today.   In this capacity, she is serving to integrate climate vulnerability and adaptation concerns across the regions and sectors of the Bank to link development to climate resilience.  

Bierbaum is also a board member for the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Federation of American Scientists, The Energy Foundation, Environmental and Energy Study Institute and the Gordon E. and Betty I. Moore Foundation (where she chairs their Environment Advisory Committee).  She is also a member of the International Advisory Board for the journal "Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment" and the Executive Committee for the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.  Dr. Bierbaum serves as the U.S. Scientific Expert, Permanent Court of Arbitration of Disputes Relating to Natural Resources and/or the Environment, in The Hague.

Bierbaum was the Acting Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in January 2001, and preceding that, she directed the first Environment Division at OSTP from 1995-2001.  She served as the administration's senior scientific advisor on the $2 billion environmental research and development strategy, with responsibilities for global change, air and water quality, biodiversity, ecosystem management, environmental monitoring, and energy research and development. In this role, she coordinated the first U.S. National Climate Assessment, the first state of the Nation's Ecosystem report, and the development of a 10-year research plan for the U.S. Global Change Research Program.  She served as the co-chair of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources of the National Science and Technology Council and developed environmental budget priorities across 12 agencies.  As well, she led the Government review of the IPCC documents and served as Head of delegation to several IPCC and other international science meetings.

Bierbaum's career in Washington began in 1980 when she was awarded a Congressional Fellowship. She then continued working in the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), helping various Committees of the Congress tackle the emerging science and policy concerns posed by acid rain, marine pollution, urban smog, ozone depletion, energy production and climate change.  She participated in 9 book length reports and testified many times before Congress.

In addition to the reports mentioned above, Dr. Bierbaum is the co-author of  “Confronting Climate Change: Avoiding the Unmanageable and Managing the Unavoidable” prepared at the request of the Commission on Sustainable Development (2007).  She is also the primary author of Changing By Degrees: Steps to Reduce Greenhouse Gases. This report (1991) identified a series of technical options to reduce both U.S. and worldwide emissions. In 1993, she directed and was the primary author of the two volume study, Preparing for an Uncertain Climate, which outlined a sustainable development strategy for the United States and became the basis for the adaptation section of the U.S. 1995 biennial report to the Framework Convention on Climate Change

In addition to teaching each year, even while Dean, Bierbaum delivers more than 50 public lectures on climate change to audiences as diverse as the United Nations, the IFC, AID, EPA, the Clinton Global Initiative, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, multiple Universities, National Laboratories, many science societies (AAAS, AGU, ESA, AMS, AIBS), college clubs, children and youth groups, rotary clubs, and retirement communities.  She has lectured on each of the continents, and in more than 15 countries.