Scott Ollinger Will Be NEON's First Observatory Director

Scott Ollinger will join NEON, Inc. as its first Observatory Director, where he will oversee the National Science Foundation-funded NEON facility. He will begin work in August 2013.

As Observatory Director, Dr. Ollinger will lead a multi-disciplinary scientific, education, and technical staff to provide highly reliable ecological data, scientific infrastructure, and educational resources to scientists, students, educators, decision makers and the general public. He will also manage the overall scientific usability and cost effectiveness of the Observatory as it becomes operational.

In addition, Dr. Ollinger will serve as principal spokesperson to the scientific community, focusing on developing and supporting a growing NEON user base.

“Scott’s experience with leading and managing large scientific projects, and his demonstrated scientific excellence will be valuable assets to the NEON facility and to NEON’s future users,” said NEON, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Russ Lea. “His forward-thinking vision for continental-scale ecology and sustained enthusiasm for NEON will ensure that the Observatory fulfills its scientific and educational mission.”

Over the past 10 years, Dr. Ollinger has contributed a considerable amount of time and expertise to NEON, serving on the NEON, Inc. Board of Directors for more than four years and, prior to that, serving as a member of the NEON Design Consortium.

“I first became involved with NEON when it was an ambitious set of ideas about how ecology could be done differently,” Dr. Ollinger said. “I was fascinated by the concept, so to see it grow into the state-of-the-art science facility that is now being built is nothing short of amazing. I'm honored to have the chance to help NEON achieve its goals and to know that I'll be working alongside such a talented group of people.”

Dr. Ollinger has led several large research projects, aircraft remote sensing campaigns, and field data collection efforts. He is currently a Principal Investigator with NASA’s Terrestrial Ecology program and has worked closely with several Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites. He received his Ph.D from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in 2000, where he is currently a Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, and Associate Director of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, also at UNH.

Dr. Ollinger’s research specialties are ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry with an emphasis on carbon and nitrogen cycling in forests, regional effects of air pollution and climate change, feedbacks between ecosystems and climate, and interactive effects of multiple agents of environmental change. He enjoys topics that bridge multiple disciplines and span a range of spatial scales, and his research often involves equal measures of field studies, remote sensing, and ecological modeling. He also has an interest in science education and has been involved with several K-12 education initiatives sponsored by the National Science Foundation and NASA.

NEON, funded by the National Science Foundation, will build 60 sites across the U.S., utilizing cutting-edge technology that will gather and synthesize continental-scale data over 30 years on the impacts of climate change, land use change and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity. All NEON data and information products will be made freely and openly available in near real-time to scientists, educators, students, decision makers, and the public.

NEON began construction in summer 2012, and to date has completed civil construction of approximately six sites, including locations in Massachusetts, Florida and Colorado. Sensor installation has begun on some early sites, and some limited data is expected to be available in late 2013.