Jonathan Foley

Jonathan Foley is the director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, where he is also a professor and McKnight Presidential Chair of Global Environment and Sustainability.

Foley’s work focuses on the sustainability of our planet and the natural resources we depend on. He and his students have contributed to our understanding of global food security, worldwide changes in ecosystems, land use and climate, and the sustainability of the world’s resources. This work has led him to be a regular advisor to governments, non-governmental organizations, environmental groups, civic groups, foundations and business leaders around the world.

Foley joined the University of Minnesota in 2008 after spending 15 years on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, where he founded the Climate, People and Environment Program (CPEP) and the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE). He and his colleagues have published numerous articles in the scientific literature, including highly cited work in Science, Nature and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He has also written many popular articles and essays, including pieces in National Geographic, The New York Times, Scientific American, The Guardian, Ensia, SEED, Yale Environment 360 and elsewhere. His presentations on global issues have been featured at hundreds of venues, including the Aspen Environmental Forum, the World Bank, the Chautauqua Institution and

Foley has won numerous awards and honors, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (awarded by President Bill Clinton), 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 2014, he was named the winner of the Heinz Award for the Environment.

Originally from Maine, Foley enjoys a wide range of activities, including nature photography, backyard astronomy, gardening, kayaking, hiking and exploring new places – often with his two daughters leading the way.

In April 2014, Foley was named as the new executive director of the California Academy of Sciences. He will begin this position in August 2014.


To invite Foley to speak at your event, fill out a speaker request form.

“The Other Inconvenient Truth” – Jonathan Foley, TECxTC presentation