Introducing Nir Krakauer, the new Principal Investigator for a sub award of the Virginia Tech-led Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management. Krakauer is heading up “Modeling for Biodiversity and Climate Change.” This project will initiate an empirical study on the effect of climate change on biodiversity and changes in biodiversity to document climate change. Before this current project, Krakauer received a sub award from Colorado State University’s Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Adapting Livestock Systems to Climate Change. His previous project was entitled “Adaptation for Climate Change by Livestock Smallholders in the Gandaki River Basin.” He holds a Ph.D. of Geochemistry from the California Institute of Technology and is currently an associate professor of Civil Engineering at the City College of New York.
Even before he began school, climate change was always of interest to Nir Krakauer, who says he can remember reflecting on environmental concerns as far back as his toddler days. Feeling the pull to be proactive in improving the world around him, Krakauer always made a conscious effort to recycle.
“I liked to be out in parks and forests and just wander around. I just liked to learn about different parts of the world and animals and ecosystems,” he said. “I would be curious about everything that had to do with the environment.”
When he received a sub award from the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab, he jumped at the chance to work toward pragmatic solutions for problems pertaining to his lifelong interests. “I feel privileged that I have the chance to work in a related area now,” Krakauer said.
After putting together a team of ecologists, biologists, and specialists in rural enterprise, training began. The group laid the groundwork for looking into the link between climate and biodiversity. With a tentative plan to head to Nepal in January, they hold teleconferences every week or two to make sure all team members are up to speed on current tasks, such as selecting field sites and recruiting students to assist with the workload.
Krakauer looks forward to observing how social and business organizations can be used to increase standards of living in South Asia. Work in this part of the world is of utmost importance, he pointed out, because it holds a large part of the world’s population, and new business models are surfacing. Government is changing, as are the ways in which people are supporting themselves. Krakauer said it’s time to strike while the iron is hot, offering his research-based insights and joining people together who can collaborate and benefit from one another.
When he’s not busy looking for ways to save the environment, Krakauer enjoys hiking around New York City, engaging in “puzzle hunts” at the Museum of Math, kayaking, bicycling, and enjoying Nepali and Middle Eastern cuisine. He’s also excited that the new season of The Big Bang Theory is officially underway. As a Cal Tech graduate, he finds the laugh-out-loud sit-com reminiscent of his time as a young scholar. These hobbies allow his brain a break, although his work is never far from his thoughts.
“I’m pretty excited about this project,” he said, noting that the subject area hasn’t been studied to a great extent in the past and therefore leaves much to be discovered.