Jonathan Foley

Director, Institute on the Environment (IonE), University of Minnesota
Saint Paul, MN, United States

About Jonathan


onathan Foley is the director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of the Minnesota, where he is a professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. He also leads the IonE’s Global Landscapes Initiative.

Foley’s work focuses on complex global environmental systems and their interactions with human societies. He and his students have contributed to our understanding of large-scale ecosystem processes, global patterns of land use, the behavior of the planet’s climate and water cycles, and the sustainability of our biosphere.

Foley joined the U of M in 2008, after spending 15 years on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, where he founded the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment. He has won numerous awards and honors, including the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Award; the J.S. McDonnell Foundation’s 21st Century Science Award; an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship; and the Sustainability Science Award from the Ecological Society of America. In 1997, President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Although originally from Maine, Foley now considers the Upper Midwest his home. He enjoys a wide range of Minnesota’s leisure activities, including kayaking, bicycling, gardening and exploring the cities—often with his two young daughters leading the way.

TED Conference


Areas of Expertise

Sustainability, global environment , Climate Change, land use , food and water security, human health and environment, computer modeling , remote sensing

An idea worth spreading

Saving the planet -- saving ourselves.

I'm passionate about

Global environmental sustainability. Climate change, global land use, food & water security, links between environment and health.

Talk to me about

Global environmental issues. Using new technologies to solve global problems.