Paul West, PhD

Co-director and lead scientist of the Global Landscapes Initiative at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment

Paul C. West has over 25 years of experience developing science-based solutions for conserving biodiversity and improving food security through collaborations with partners at local, regional, and global scales. Since 2011, he has been the co-director and lead scientist for the Global Landscapes Initiative, which is designed to find solutions to balance food security and the environment. The team’s research is published in leading science journals—including Nature, Science, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Paul’s impact goes beyond academia. He leads the team’s efforts to get science and data out of the ivory tower and into the hands of global leaders driving change on the ground. He recently led an international multi-agency team to develop data-driven solutions for TNC’s Regenerative Ranching and Agriculture strategy for Latin America. Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, Paul worked for 17 years at The Nature Conservancy, where he led both land and freshwater projects. His accomplishments include leading strategic planning for biodiversity conservation across the western Great Lakes region and launching a global initiative to conserve large rivers in agricultural landscapes in the US, Brazil, China, and Zimbabwe. Paul received a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he developed new methods for quantifying the tradeoffs of food production, climate, biodiversity, and water. In 2019, the Web of Science named him one of the world’s most influential researchers of the past decade, a recognition extended to only 159 environmental scientists globally.