About 130 ecologists and environmental scientists from around the world will be in Santa Barbara this week to mark 16 years of work by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), whose State Street-based work has led to the creation of marine reserves, among other real world results.

“We were revolutionary when we were established in the mid-1990s — no other center had taken the sort of approach we did,” said deputy director Stephanie Hampton, explaining that NCEAS was unique because it relied on existing data rather than pursuing new studies and that there is no resident faculty, instead relying on a steady stream of more than 700 visiting experts per year, sometimes eclipsing 1,000 people annually. “Now there are 18 different centers that have modeled themselves on what we’ve done.”

The conference begins Wednesday night with a speech by former NCEAS researcher Jane Lubchenco, who’s now the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and continues this week with sessions that will both reflect on the past and brainstorm a new direction for the future.


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