William Anderegg

2023 National Award Winner — Faculty

William Anderegg

Current Position:
Associate Professor & Director of the Wilkes Center for Climate Science and Policy

The University of Utah

Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Recognized for: Recognized for groundbreaking insights into how forests respond to rapid climate change from cells to ecosystems. His state-of-the-art multiscale approach has been critical in not only informing our understanding of climate change, but also building tools to predict and tackle it. Anderegg’s discoveries are already informing climate solutions, global policies, and public health.

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Global Ecology, Climate Change, Tree Physiology, Carbon Cycle, Drought

Previous Positions:

  • Assistant Professor, University of Utah
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, Princeton University (Advisor: Stephen Pacala)
  • PhD, Stanford University (Advisor: Christopher Field)
  • BA, Stanford University

Research Summary: Forests absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide each year, partially helping offset anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, and thus play a key role in the fight against climate change. However, because climate change is dramatically increasing stressors (e.g. drought, pests, fires) that have major impacts on forests, it remains unclear whether forests will be able to continue to slow down the climate change crisis. William Anderegg, PhD, takes a sophisticated theoretical and quantitative multilevel approach to address this question.

Dr. Anderegg’s research program examines the interaction of plant ecology and climate change by examining how processes controlled at the scale of cells cascade to ecosystems. Specifically, he addresses how drought and climate change affect the plant-soil-atmospheric systems, including tree physiology, species interaction, and biosphere-atmosphere feedbacks. Among his many significant contributions to his field, one line of work overturns a longstanding theory on how stomata operate in order to improve carbon gain and water loss in leaves, and in turn, how this affects ecosystem responses to climate globally. As a leading voice in the field of climate change, he works to build tools to predict the future of forests and to inform solutions to the climate change crisis.

Beyond his groundbreaking research, Dr. Anderegg is the Founding Director for the Wilkes Center for Climate Science & Policy and works with local community centers, land management agencies, and conservation organizations to inform climate solutions, global policies, and public health. He is the first ever winner of the Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists to be awarded the Blavatnik National Awards.

"We strive to illuminate the future of Earth’s forests in a rapidly changing climate, which has major implications for biodiversity, society, and the speed of climate change itself. "

Key Publications:

  1. W.R. Anderegg, C. Wu, N. Acil, N. Carvalhais, T.A. Pugh, J. P. Sadler, & R. Seidl, R. A climate risk analysis of Earth’s forests in the 21st centuryScience, 2022.
  2. W.R. Anderegg, J.T. Abatzoglou, L.D. Anderegg, L. Bielory, P. L. Kinney, & L. Ziska. Anthropogenic climate change is worsening North American pollen seasonsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021.
  3. W.R. Anderegg, A. T. Trugman, D. R. Bowling, G. Salvucci, & S. E. Tuttle. Plant functional traits and climate influence drought intensification and land–atmosphere feedbacksProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019.
  4. W.R. Anderegg, A. G. Konings, A. T. Trugman, K. Yu, D. R. Bowling, R. Gabbitas, et al. Hydraulic diversity of forests regulates ecosystem resilience during droughtNature, 2018.

Other Honors:

2023 Alan T. Waterman Award, National Science Foundation

2021 CAREER AWARD, National Science Foundation

2018 Fellow for Science and Engineering, The David & Lucile Packard Foundation

2018 Early Career Fellow, Ecological Society of America

2016 Early Career Award, American Geophysical Union

2016 Blavatnik Regional Award for Young Scientists, Blavatnik Family Foundation

2014 Tansley Medal, New Phytologist Trust

2013 NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship, University Corporation for Atmosphere Research

2012 Melendez Wright Climate Change Fellowship, National Park Service, Declined

In the Media:

Wall Street Journal – An Allergy Season So Bad You Don’t Need Allergies to Feel Miserable

Washington Post – The worst cities in the U.S. for allergies

TIME Magazine – Why Allergy Seasons Are Getting Worse

NPR All Things Considered – Rising temperatures prolong pollen season and could worsen allergies

Associated Press – The Big Sneeze: Climate change to make pollen season nastier

New York Times – Achoo! Climate Change Lengthening Pollen Season in U.S., Study Shows

ProPublicaThe Climate Solution Actually Adding Millions of Tons of CO2 Into the Atmosphere

Washington Post – Pollen Seasons are Already Getting Longer

NBC Nightly News – Nothing to sneeze at: Global warming triggers earlier pollen

NPR Science Friday – Allergy Season Is Blooming With Climate Change

Scientific American – Diverse Tree Portfolio Weathers Droughts Better

Anderegg Lab

The Wilkes Center