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Speaker Bio: Bob Kates

-- Speaker: Robert W. Kates (born 1929) is an American geographer and independent scholar in Trenton, Maine, and University Professor (Emeritus) at Brown University. In 2008, he was appointed the inaugural Presidential Professor of Sustainability Science at the University of Maine, Orono. Kates was born in New York City. He never took an undergraduate degree, but while working in Illinois, he sought study advice from Gilbert F. White at the University of Chicago. White recognized his abilities and steered him through an MA and eventually a PhD in Geography. Kates taught at the Graduate School of Geography, Clark University from 1962 until the mid 1980s. From 1986 to 1992 he was Professor and Director of the World Hunger Program at Brown University. Kates's research focuses on long-term trends in environment, development, and population, and he is particularly known for his work on natural hazards mitigation, driven by a Quaker belief in relevance to human society. Kates defines his central question as "What is and ought to be the human use of the Earth?" Since retiring from Brown University he has continued to work on: the sustainability transition; long-term population dynamics; global environmental change; the prevalence and persistence of hunger. Following the devastation of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Kates returned to his earlier work on hazards and published a research perspective on the reconstruction of New Orleans (Kates et al., 2006). Kates helped to establish the international Initiative for Science and Technology for Sustainability, was Executive Editor of Environment magazine for many years, and is still a Senior Associate at Harvard University. In previous years, he worked in Africa with Clark colleagues, and also developed and directed a resource assessment centre at the University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. At Clark University he founded CENTED (the centre for technology, environment, and development), now part of the Marsh Institute, where he remains a Distinguished Scientist. Among several honors he is a recipient of the 1991 National Medal of Science, and the MacArthur Fellow (1981–85). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Academia Europaea. He was awarded an honorary DSc from Clark University for his many contributions to hazards research. See