This lectureship and student fellows program was generously endowed by Anne Clark Wolff (‘87) and Benjamin E. Wolff III (‘86) to honor the distinguished career of Oak Professor of Biological Sciences emeritus F. Russell Cole, a champion and long-time director of the Environmental Studies Program at Colby College who was instrumental in positioning Colby as a national leader in sustainability and the study of the environment.


The F. Russell Cole Distinguished Lectureship in Environmental Studies
The F. Russell Cole Distinguished Lectureship in Environmental Studies brings environmental leaders who have made important contributions to the study of the environment to Colby College. This lectureship was generously endowed by Anne Clark Wolff (‘87) and Benjamin E. Wolff III (‘86) to honor the retirement of Oak Professor of Biological Sciences emeritus F. Russell Cole, a champion and long-time director of the Environmental Studies Program at Colby College.  Cole, one of Colby’s leading teacher-scholars, was instrumental in positioning Colby as a national leader in sustainability and environmental education.

Photo by Fred Field

The Environmental Studies Program at Colby annually appoints one or more Cole Distinguished Lecturers to recognize individuals who have made substantial advances in and contributions to environmental science, environmental policy, environmental humanities, or environmental sustainability broadly defined.  Cole Distinguished Lecturers may include environmental scientists, professionals, writers, activists, and other environmental practitioners working to understand and address pressing environmental problems.  Lecturers will be drawn from academia, government, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, and other fields as appropriate.

During their campus visit(s), Cole Distinguished Lecturers will present one or more public keynote addresses to the College and local community, attend classes, and participate in meals and diverse events designed to engage students, faculty and staff, and members of the broader Colby community in discussions about their work in and contributions to understanding and addressing their specialty topics. Cole Distinguished Lecturers are selected by a committee of Environmental Studies Program faculty, staff, and Cole Student Fellows.


2018-2019 Distinguished Lecturer in Environmental Studies

Dr. Jonathan Foley is a world-renowned environmental scientist, author, and public speaker. His work is focused on understanding our changing planet, and finding new solutions to sustain the climate, ecosystems, and natural resources we all depend on.

Foley’s groundbreaking research and insights have led him to become a trusted advisor to governments, foundations, non-governmental organizations, and business leaders around the world. He and his colleagues have made major contributions to our understanding of global ecosystems, food security and the environment, climate change, and the sustainability of the world’s resources. He has published over 130 peer-reviewed scientific articles, including many highly cited works in Science, Nature, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2014, Thomson Reuters named him a Highly Cited Researcher in ecology and environmental science, placing him among the top 1 percent most cited global scientists.

A noted science communicator, his presentations have been featured at hundreds of international venues, including the Aspen Institute, the World Bank, the National Geographic Society, the Chautauqua Institution, the Commonwealth Club, the National Science March in Washington, D.C., and He has taught at several major universities on topics ranging from climate change, global sustainability solutions, the future of the global food system, and addressing the world’s “grand challenges”. He has also written many popular articles, op-eds, and essays in publications like National Geographic, the New York Times, the Guardian, and Scientific American. His writing has been featured on the covers of National Geographic, Nature, and Scientific American. He is also frequently interviewed by documentary filmmakers and international media outlets, and has appeared on National Public Radio, PBS NewsHour, the BBC, CNN, and in the New York Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post, Salon, WIRED, and the HBO documentary on climate change “Too Hot Not to Handle”.

Foley has won numerous awards and honors for his work, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, awarded by President Clinton; the J.S. McDonnell Foundation’s 21st Century Science Award; an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship; the Sustainability Science Award from the Ecological Society of America; and the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Award. In 2014, he was also named as the winner of the prestigious Heinz Award for the Environment.

Foley is currently Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences. In this role, he leads the greenest museum on the planet and one of the most future- focused scientific institutions in the world. Previously, he was the founding director of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota, where he was McKnight Presidential Chair of Global Environment and Sustainability. Prior to that, he was Gaylord Nelson Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, where he founded the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE).

Originally from Maine, Foley enjoys nature photography, hiking, kayaking, and exploring new places. He lives in San Francisco.


F. Russell Cole Student Research Fellows Program in Environmental Studies at Colby College
Students are invited to apply for funding to support environmental research from the F. Russell Cole Student Research Fellows program in Environment Studies.  Student award winners will receive a research grant and be named Cole Fellows for the 2017-18 academic year.

Eligibility: Current Colby students proposing or engaged in meaningful environmental research are eligible to apply for funding from the F. Russell Cole Student Research Fellows Program.  Students may elect to pursue a project with a Colby faculty member, with faculty or staff at a partner organization, agency, or firm, or with faculty at another college or university.  If a student proposes research at an institution not affiliated with Colby, he or she must identify a Colby research sponsor who will mentor and evaluate the student’s experience.  Seniors who will graduate in May are not eligible.

Guidelines: F. Russell Cole Student Research Fellowship grants will be awarded competitively. Award amounts will vary depending on the quality and feasibility of the research proposal, availability of funds, student financial need, and any other factors deemed important by the grant committee.  Students are eligible to request summer salary support. Students are encouraged to consult with Environmental Studies Program Director Philip Nyhus or Environmental Studies Coordinator Lia Morris as well as their faculty mentor to discuss project ideas and grant guidelines before submitting their proposals. Successful candidates will be named F. Russell Cole Student Research Fellows (“Cole Fellows”) for the academic year in which their awards are granted.  Please contact Leslie Lima ( for complete proposal guidelines.

Submission: Application materials must include a completed Cole Student Research Fellows Grant application. Please submit applications electronically to Leslie Lima ( Students are responsible for making sure all recommendation and supporting letters are submitted by the deadline. Cole Fellows will be selected by the F. Russell Cole Student Research Fellows Committee.

Deadline: Applications for a summer research fellowship are due the first Friday in April.  For the Jan Plan term they will be due the first Friday in November.

Past F. Russell Cole Lecturers and Student Research Fellows