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Dobson named Jefferson Science Fellow by U.S. State Department

Geography professor to advise on using science to form global policy

Jerome Dobson, professor of geography has been selected to work in and advise the U.S. State Department during 2009-10 as a Jefferson Science Fellow. The prestigious distinction is conferred on only five to seven faculty members each year nationwide.

Jerome Dobson

“My work at KU has a global dimension that could benefit federal decision making on key international issues. I’m honored to be named a Jefferson Science Fellow and I look forward to starting this important assignment in the fall,” Dobson said.

All of the appointees are now awaiting diplomatic security clearance approval. Once that’s completed, Dobson and the others will attend a formal recognition ceremony with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The Jefferson Science Fellows program was established in 2003 as a way of elevating the role of science and technology in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy. Funding is provided by the State Department, but participants are chosen by independent panels of experts at the National Academies of Science, based on the applicants’ professional stature, recognition and experience, and ability to articulate science and technology issues to the general public.

Dobson is president of the American Geographical Society and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He came to KU in 2001 following a distinguished career at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He is recognized internationally for his work with geographic information systems, notably the LandScan Global Population Database that is the world standard for estimating populations at risk during wars and natural disasters.

His current research includes developing new cartographic and statistical tools to support humanitarian removal of land mines and cluster bombs in 40 countries around the world. He has also led five expeditions in recent years to conduct fieldwork in Mexico, Colombia, Jordan, the Antilles and Kazakhstan. Earlier in his career, he served for 14 years as a contributing editor and columnist for GeoWorld magazine.

Dobson is the first KU faculty member to be named a Jefferson Science Fellow. The 2008 class included Mohammed Zikry, a 1983 KU graduate who is now a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University.

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