Jessica J. Hellmann

Ecolab Chair for Environmental Leadership and Director, Institute on the Environment
Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior

As director of the Institute on the Environment (IonE), I bring an ecological and climate perspective to some of the biggest issues facing people and the planet. At IonE, we are working to build a future where people and planet prosper together through goal-oriented, interdisciplinary research, by developing sustainability leaders, and by sharing stories about sustainability solutions around the world.

When I’m not enabling and promoting the work of others through IonE, I study how climate change is affecting living things and what we can do to reduce the negative impacts to live healthy, happy and sustainable lives. Toward that end, I direct the Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, a collaborative endeavor of eight non-governmental organizations, including the UMN, and the US Geological Survey.

I’m a member of the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior and its graduate faculty. I’m also a faculty fellow in the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change and a member of the graduate faculty of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Conservation Sciences program of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

I am the co-founder of a company called Geofinancial Analytics, and I am honored to serve on the board of directors of several organizations that are moving the needle on science and sustainability.

I’m an elected member of the Ecological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a former Leopold Leadership Fellow (2011) and Leshner Leadership Fellow (2015). I’m a grateful recipient of the Women Sustainability Leadership Award (2023) and a Climate Adaptation Leadership Award from the US Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (2017). While these awards and fellowship experiences are a great honor, the truth is that we all strive toward sustainability together — it’s not just the effort of individuals.

Read more about my background and interests here, see collaborators here, and peruse some of my scholarly work here.

Check out the syllabus of my current undergrad course, “Living the Good Life at the End of the World,” a Grand Challenge Curriculum Course taught with professor of English, Dan Philippon.

Listen to me say “hello” care of NPR’s Joe Palca.

Contact me