April 9, 2019
Richardson, who came to NAU from Harvard University, is a professor in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Security (SICCS) and the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss). He studies forest science and ecophysiology, with his research incorporating plant biology, earth system science, computer science, remote sensing, applied mathematics, engineering, atmospheric science and micrometeorology. He is a world-renowned expert in phenology, the study of seasonal rhythms of plants and animals in various ecosystems. Richardson created PhenoCam, a system of networked digital cameras that have more than 500 sites through North America that monitor vegetation phenology at the ecosystem scale. PhenoCam is supported by $2 million in grants and contracts and all of the data collected, including more than 30 million images, are publicly available in near real-time for use in research and community.
The framework for PhenoCam, which combines strengths from biological and ecological sciences and programming and data sciences, is being adopted as a core measurement strategy in long-term global research networks throughout the world.
In 2018 alone, Richardson earned grants from several major federal agencies, bringing in $9.7 million in external awards to fund his research. He has published more than 190 peer-reviewed papers and Clarivate Analytics has identified him as a highly cited researcher in environment/ecology and agricultural sciences. He has received more than $40 million in grant funding in his career.
Richardson, who said his first reaction to the news that he had been selected for this honor was disbelief and to ask a coworker to verify that it was President Cheng’s voice on the message, has made significant discoveries and leading-edge contributions to research related to terrestrial ecosystem carbon cycling. The basic science underlying his work is helping to shape the field of carbon management and is leading to a reassessment of the role old nonstructural carbons play in supporting tree growth and metabolism.
“There are a lot of really exciting developments at NAU these days, and it is amazing to be part of this energetic and vibrant academic community,” Richardson said. “I am very fortunate to have wonderful colleagues in SICCS and Ecoss and a great lab group that I work with every day. Being appointed as a Regents’ Professor is a tremendous honor, and I am thrilled to have my academic work recognized with this distinction.”