Gwinn Science Lecture
Upper School students heard from Alizé Carrère, a renowned Cultural Ecologist and National Geographic Explorer, as part of the William Edward Gwinn ’86 Memorial Science Lecture on March 14, 2019.
Carrère shared her experiences documenting and researching climate change adaptation with students and faculty, and how innovation can fuel growth in a changing environment.
“My mission is to bring the idea of adaptation and innovation to others,” said Carrère. “Around the world, it is important to be open to change, and adapt when we need to.”
Her passion for local innovation and environmental adaptation started with research in Madagascar, which was supported by a National Geographic Early Career Grant. Her research uncovered ways farmers adapted their land in the face of severe deforestation. Most notably, farmers were challenged by the formation of lavakas, or deep holes caused by erosion. Carrère studied how farmers transformed the lavakas into new, fertile farmland. One farmer, for example, made terraces inside the massive hole and began growing more than a dozen varieties of crops.
Carrère’s experience in Madagascar led her to explore other parts of the globe where local innovation and problem solving is helping communities adapt as the planet’s environment changes. She noted farmers in Bangladesh who are building floating farms to combat rising sea levels and flooding, and a group of people in Ladakh, India, who are capturing glacial meltwater and repurposing it for agricultural needs.
Carrère is detailing her work in a film project that highlights these and many other examples of human adaptation in response to climate change. The first episode, which focused on the Bangladesh floating farms, won Best Short Film at the New York Wild Film Festival and the Norman Vaughan Indomitable Spirit Award at the Telluride Mountain Film Festival.
Alizé Carrère is a National Geographic Explorer researching and documenting climate change adaptation in practice. Carrère is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Miami’s Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. She earned a B.A. at McGill University in Environmental Sciences and International Development and an M.Sc. in Bioresource Engineering. She is the great-granddaughter of Leslie R. Severinghaus, former headmaster of The Haverford School.
The William Edward Gwinn '86 Memorial Science Lecture was established by Byrd and Molly Gwinn in memory of their son, Will Gwinn ’86, who achieved the highest academic honors at The Haverford School and died of leukemia in his junior year. The Gwinns established a prize and lectureship in his memory to bring a distinguished scientist each year to address Upper School students.
2019: Alizé Carrère, National Geographic
2018: Dr. David Sternberg '08, NASA
2017: Dr. Leila Deravi, Northeastern University
2016: Dr. R.V. Paul Chan '91, University of Illinois-Chicago
2015: Dr. Megan McCain, University of Southern California
2014: Dr. Anil Rustgi
2013: Dr. Steve Galetta
2012: Dr. Bill Weber
2011: Dr. Ken Ford
2010: Dr. Autumn Fiester
2009: Dr. Mitchell Lazar
2008: Dr. Paul Offit