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Faculty and Staff

Gower to Head Forestry

Stith T. (Tom) Gower will join the College of Natural Resources as head of the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources effective Oct. 16.

Gower, an internationally recognized forest ecosystem ecologist, is a professor of forest and wildlife ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he directs a living and learning community program for undergraduates majoring in biological sciences.

He earned a bachelor of science in biology from Furman University, a master of science in forest ecology and a minor in soil science from NC State, and a Ph.D. in forest ecology from the University of Washington. He is a University of Wisconsin Systems Teaching Fellow and Scholar and an HHMI Faculty Fellow with the Institute for Biology Education.

Tom Gower takes the helm of forestry and environmental resources this fall.
Tom Gower takes the helm of forestry and environmental resources this fall.

Gower’s research focuses primarily on the effects of disturbance on carbon, water and nutrient budgets of forest ecosystems, life cycle inventories of greenhouse gases to produce wood and paper products, forest carbon adaptation and mitigation management, and whole system (biological and industrial) analysis of forest ecosystems and landscapes to optimize sustainable production of ecosystem goods and services.

He has served as PI or co-investigator on numerous large multidisciplinary research teams raising over $14 million in external funding from the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. His research has involved collaborative relationships with state, provincial, federal and private industry colleagues in the United States, Canada, Russian Federation, Sweden, China and Portugal.

Gower is co-author of two books, approximately 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and numerous proceedings papers, book chapters and presentation papers and abstracts. He has also served on numerous forestry and natural resource advisory boards such as the advisory committee for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Digital Active Archive Center. He has also served as subject editor for forestry journals such as Tree Physiology and the Canadian Journal of Forest Resources.

In recent years Gower has become interested in educational innovation. He is a recent co-recipient of a NSF Ideas Lab grant to promote quantitative sciences in natural sciences, and has renewed a national dialogue on rewarding faculty for outstanding education. He is currently involved in developing a series of  classroom case studies and curricula that emphasize student-centered learning.

“Tom Gower brings a wealth of new ideas and a proven record of accomplishment to the department and the college,” says Dean Mary Watzin. “I am delighted that he is willing to take on this new challenge.  Tom has a solid record of interdisciplinary thinking – developing and implementing creative new curricula and first-year retention programs and fostering opportunities for students to engage in meaningful research experiences.  His research exploring the dynamics of forest ecosystems and the tradeoffs that exist under different future scenarios of natural and industrial forest management, along with an enthusiasm for sharing information and solving practical problems, make Tom an excellent match for our college.”