Jessica Hellmann is the director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. As director, she provides overall strategic leadership for the Institute, an internationally recognized organization working to solve grand environmental challenges, while promoting interdisciplinary research, teaching and leadership across the university and engaging external partners and stakeholders. She is also the Russell M. and Elizabeth M. Bennett Chair in Excellence in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior in the College of Biological Sciences.
Hellmann’s research focuses on global change ecology and climate adaptation. She led an important paradigm shift in ecology and natural resource management by showing that adaptation — living with climate change — is just as crucial to the future of humanity and Earth’s ecosystems as slowing and stopping greenhouse gas emissions. Hellmann regularly counsels state and national governments on habitat management, restoration and endangered species conservation, and has extended her work on climate change adaptation to human systems, including health, infrastructure, food and water. She has co-authored several climate assessment and adaptation planning efforts, including the biodiversity and ecosystem portions of the Chicago Climate Action Plan and the 2014 National Climate Assessment. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Great Plains Institute, and the Science Advisory Council of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.
Hellmann holds a BS in Ecology and Natural Resource Management from the University of Michigan. She earned her Ph.D. in biology from Stanford University and served as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Biodiversity Research. She is an alumna of Stanford’s Leopold Leadership Program and a recipient of a career enhancement fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.