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D'Amato, Staudinger Receive Climate Adaptation Leadership Award Honorable Mentions

Friday, September 29, 2023

Two NE CASC researchers, Anthony D’Amato and Michelle Staudinger, have received honorable mention recognition as part of the 2023 Climate Adaptation Leadership Awards. Sponsored by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), the awards honor outstanding efforts to advance the resilience of the nation’s fish, wildlife, and plant resources in a changing climate. They are widely considered the nation’s premier award program for achievements in climate adaptation. 

A faculty member at the University of Vermont and an NE CASC principal investigator, D’Amato has been credited with leading a “renaissance in silviculture” across the Midwest and Upper Northeast. D’Amato’s reputation as a transformative figure in adaptive forest management helped propel him to recognition in the “Nongovernmental” award category and stems from his advancement of climate adaptation in four areas: 

  • The development of a prolific and innovative, coproduced research program that is guided by management questions and has significantly impacted the decision-making of forest managers
  • The translation of technical climate adaptation research into definitive, widely used outreach materials for forest managers and private landowners
  • Mentorship of a new generation of forestry professionals who are well positioned to address the challenges posed by climate change
  • The creation of a growing community of practice around forest adaptation through the use of novel web-based tools and successful engagement activities.

“I am fortunate to collaborate with an amazing group of partners who are dedicated to tackling the challenges of sustaining forest ecosystems and associated species and values under climate change,” D’Amato said. “These partnerships are truly one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job and I am humbled by this recognition. It is certainly a team effort, so I feel this honor is really a shared one with the many partners, managers, agencies, and organizations I have the pleasure of working with.”

A former NE CASC science coordinator who recently accepted a faculty position at the University of Maine, Staudinger was recognized in the “Federal Government” category for demonstrating exemplary leadership in reducing climate-related threats and promoting adaptation of the region’s natural resources during her time at NE CASC. In her role as science coordinator, Staudinger initiated and led a climate change synthesis for the 2015 and 2025 Wildlife Action Plans in northeastern states; established a regional Climate Change Working Group of federal, state, academic and NGO partners; and initiated annual symposia for the Northeast Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (NEAFWA). She will continue to work with state agencies at the University of Maine.

“I am very grateful and humbled for this recognition and have found working with the states over the years on the SWAPs and other projects to be incredibly rewarding,” Staudinger said. “I also am excited to be able to help deliver our regional climate synthesis products later this year with Terwilliger Consulting and ORISE fellows Kevin Burgio, Hanusia Higgins and Alice Lubeck.”

This year marks the fourth time in the past five years that NE CASC team members have been recognized with Climate Adaptation Leadership Awards. In 2021, the Northeast Regional Invasive Species and Climate Change (RISCC) Management Network–founded and led by NE CASC University Codirector Bethany Bradley, Research Ecologist Toni Lyn Morelli, and Regional Administrator Carrie Brown-Lima–was recognized for its outstanding work in addressing the dual threats of climate change and invasive species. Prior to that, Tribal Climate Science Liaison Casey Thornbrugh received a 2020 award for his far-reaching work in promoting Tribal climate adaptation across the Northeast and Southeast regions. NE CASC team members Christopher Caldwell and Sara Smith were recognized in 2019 for their contributions to production of the Tribal Adaptation Menu, a groundbreaking document that facilitates the integration of Tribal and Indigenous knowledge with adaptation science.