TRANSITIONS: Houlton Takes Lead at John Muir Institute

Photo: Professor Benjamin Houlton against backdrop of the bark of a redwood tree
Professor Benjamin Houlton outlines his vision as the new director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment. (Lisa Howard/UC Davis)

In This Column

  • Ben Houlton, director, John Muir Institute of the Environment
  • Lisa Brodkey, associate ombuds

Chancellor’s Fellow and Professor Benjamin Houlton of the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources has been named director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment, where he had served as the associate director since January. He succeeds Mark Schwartz, professor of environmental science and policy, who had been the institute’s director since 2009.

“Dr. Houlton has assumed the crucially important job of focusing our university’s remarkable wealth of environmental expertise on the most critical environmental problems of our time, not just in California and the United States, but across continents,” Acting Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter said. “The Muir Institute has the disciplinary breadth and heft to help understand and solve complex environmental problems as the climate changes and demands for natural resources increase.”

Houlton said he envisions the development of OneClimate, an initiative to highlight UC Davis’ role in addressing climate change and to bring together different campus centers and institutes to focus on three key areas: the science of climate change, mitigation of greenhouse gases and adaptation. “It’s a way to shine a light on what we are doing on this campus, build collaborations with partner institutions and do our part to help solve climate change,” he said.

Another area where he sees the possibility for successful interdisciplinary collaboration is with the use of “big data,” compiling large data sets from diverse sources and using machine-learning techniques to develop visualization tools for resource managers, policymakers and the public. “Data-driven discovery is one of the key tools of the 21st century, and JMIE is positioned to lead the environment in this space.”

Read more about Houlton’s vision for the institute.

Lisa Brodkey joins Office of the Ombuds

 Lisa Brodkey and Katherine Greenwood, environmental, in front of bamboo trees
The ombuds: Lisa Brodkey, left, associate ombuds, and Katherine Greenwood, ombuds. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Lisa Brodkey is moving from the Harassment and Discrimination Assistance and Prevention Program to the Office of the Ombuds, where she will serve as the associate ombuds.

“I am excited to be transitioning into this new role at UC Davis,” said Brodkey, who has served as the director of HDAPP (formerly the Sexual Harassment Education Program) for the last 25 years. Her starting date with the ombuds office is set for Oct. 1.

In a memo announcing Brodkey’s move, campus officials said: “During her time with HDAPP, Lisa successfully resolved thousands of cases and ensured that countless employees received tailored and effective sexual harassment prevention training.

“She led the unit through many changes in the law and policy, and restructured the program to handle sexual violence complaints as well as complaints about other forms of discrimination, harassment, hate and bias. Thanks to Lisa’s leadership, HDAPP is respected across the campus as a trusted partner in resolving complicated and difficult issues.”

Now she will bring her skills to the ombuds office, which, as of June 1,  has a new director, Katherine Greenwood.

Greenwood said Brodkey will assist students, staff and faculty in navigating UC Davis conflicts and issues. Additionally, she will soon be using her expert training skills to provide seminars on conflict management strategies.

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