Meredith Cornett has directed The Nature Conservancy’s science program in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota since August 2003. She oversees conservation planning, research, and ecological monitoring activities, often in collaboration with universities, land management agencies, and other non-governmental organizations.
In addition, she is an adjunct faculty member in Forest Resources and the Conservation Biology Program at the University of Minnesota. Her previous positions include Conservation Ecologist for the Conservancy’s Northeast Minnesota Program, Forest Ecologist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Community Forestry Extensionist with the Peace Corps in the Republic of Panama.
Dr. Cornett received a Ph.D. (2000) and M.S. (1996) in Forestry from the University of Minnesota’s College of Natural Resources in St. Paul and holds a B.A. in Biology from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. Her dissertation work examined restoration and conservation strategies of upland northern white cedar forests on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The focus of her recent work is on whole systems restoration and climate change adaptation.
When it comes to prairies, reconstruction at a landscape scale takes a lot of seed - some 300,000 lbs. of seed in the case of the Conservancy's Glacial Ridge Project. All that seed has to come from somewhere, and we usually look to prairie remnants to supply it. But how much is too much? Does regular, repeated harvest from our last remaining prairies have biological consequences for the donor site? Meredith is working with her Ph.D. student, Justin Meissen, co-advised by Dr. Susan Galatowitsch of the University of Minnesota's Conservation Biology Program, as he assesses risks and develops harvesting guidelines for native seed.
Climate change presents a number of challenges for both nature and people. Although the problem is daunting, the search for solutions by conservationist scientists and land managers is gaining momentum. Is it possible to get ahead of climate change and help species and habitats adapt to new conditions? How do we build adaptive capacity in ecosystems? But new energy and collaborations around these and related questions offer hope for the future, even though we already see plants and animals responding to new climate patterns. We have much to learn from these communities of practice, like the one assembled around the Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework. Read more about our emerging approach to bolstering resilience in forests of northern Minnesota and find out how else TNC is adapting to climate change in the Great Lakes region.
Meet our scientists in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.