Melody Brown Burkins

Associate Director, The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding
Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies
Senior Fellow, UArctic Institute of Arctic Policy
Chair, U.S. National Academies' Board on International Scientific Organizations
Governing Board & Vice Chair Outreach and Engagement, International Science Council (ISC)
Vice Lead, UArctic Model Arctic Council

Melody Brown Burkins, Ph.D., (GR '95 '98) is the Associate Director for Programs and Research in the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding and Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies at Dartmouth. With over twenty-five years of experience in both academia and government, she is an advocate for policy-engaged scholarship across disciplines, experiential education, and the support of global science and diplomacy initiatives - from the Arctic to the Middle East - advancing sustainability, inclusion, gender equality, and peace.

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A "science diplomat," Dr. Burkins is an elected member of the Founding Governing Board of the International Science Council (ISC), Chair of the National Academies’ Board on International Scientific Organizations (BISO), and Past Chair of the U.S. National Committee for Geological Sciences. Her work in science and policy in both national and international governance directly informs her teaching of "The Practice of Science Policy and Diplomacy" at Dartmouth as well as her interests in ensuring the best science and evidence informs pressing global challenges, from climate change to poverty alleviation. She advises students as the faculty advisor to the Dartmouth Science, Technology, and Engineering Policy Society (STEPS), serves on an advisory board to the Science Diplomacy division of the International Network of Government Science Advisors (INGSA), and works with international colleagues to develop research programs practicing reciprocity and collaboration, respecting indigenous and local knowledge, and advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, Dr. Burkins also maintains strong personal and professional connections to the North and cares deeply about the future of Arctic communities and landscapes. Serving as Dartmouth's Councilor to the UArctic global network, she works closely with Dartmouth's Institute of Arctic Studies, is a Senior Fellow in the UArctic Institute for Arctic Policy and serves as Vice Lead of the UArctic Model Arctic Council Thematic Network. She also advises Aurora at Dartmouth, a student-led organization celebrating Alaskan culture and connecting students to future opportunities in the North. Burkins hosted the first Arctic Science Diplomacy and Leadership Workshop at Dartmouth in 2017 and is an invited speaker on issues of Arctic science diplomacy, gender inclusion, and the training of next generation science and diplomacy leaders around the world, from Oulu to Oman.

After receiving her Ph.D. from Dartmouth in earth and environmental science, Burkins received the 1999-2000 AAAS Congressional Science and Technology Policy Fellowship sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Geological Society of America (GSA). She continued her work in Washington, DC, as the energy and environment policy advisor to U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy through 2003, then spent over ten years at the University of Vermont (UVM) in a diversity of leadership and management roles. These included serving as director of the Northeastern States Research Cooperative, executive director of the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative, associate dean in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, director of federal relations, director of the UVM supercomputing center, and senior director for research and strategic initiatives for the Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate College.

Burkins' leadership in science, policy, diplomacy, and strategic management have led to appointments by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences as a formal U.S. delegate to multiple international scientific assemblies and congresses. In 2016, she was the first woman to chair a U.S. delegation to an International Geological Congress (34th IGC, South Africa) and created the first majority-female delegation of U.S. geoscience leaders. She was the recipient of a 2013 HERS Fellowship for women leaders in higher education and co-edited Holistic Engineering Education: Beyond Technology (Springer, 2010), a collection of essays about the future of engineering education and practice.

Burkins also believes in the importance of service to her community and state. In 2014, she was appointed by Vermont’s Secretary of Commerce to the state’s first Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) committee and served on the Board of Vermont's Energy Action Network (EAN) from 2012 to 2015. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Thetford Academy in Thetford, Vermont, and serves on the Advisory Board of EmergeVermont.

Burkins earned her B.S. in geology at Yale and both her M.S. and Ph.D. at Dartmouth, focusing her doctoral studies in earth and ecosystem studies of the Antarctic Dry Valleys. 

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146 Haldeman
Environmental Studies
The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding
Ph.D. Dartmouth
M.S. Dartmouth
B.S. Yale
The John Sloan Dickey Center