Melody Brown Burkins

Associate Director, John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding
Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies (ENVS)
Founding Governing Board, International Science Council (ISC)
Vice Chair, National Academies' Board on International Scientific Organizations (BISO)
Past Chair, US National Committee for the Geological Sciences

Melody Brown Burkins, PhD, (GR'98 GR'95) 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 College. With over twenty-five years of experience in both academia and government, she is an advocate for policy-engaged scholarship across disciplines, international education and partnerships, creating new opportunities for academics and professionals in science policy and diplomacy, and the support of global initiatives investing in earth systems sustainability, civic engagement, and gender equality.

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Dr. Burkins is a member of the National Academies’ Board on International Scientific Organizations (BISO), Past Chair of the U.S. National Committee for Geological Sciences (USNC-GS), and a member of the Science Policy Exchange Governing Council, work that directly informs her teaching of science policy and diplomacy at Dartmouth as well as her interest in connecting science to addressing global challenges, from the warming Arctic to advancing progress on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for poverty alleviation, gender equality, sustainable communities, and human rights. 

After receiving her Ph.D. from Dartmouth in earth and environmental science, Burkins received a highly competitive AAAS Congressional Science and Technology Policy Fellowship sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Geological Society of America (GSA). She continued 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' connections across science, policy, diplomacy, and strategic management have led to appointments as a formal U.S. delegate to international scientific assemblies and service on international working groups. She was most recently part of the Strategy Working Group for the successful merger to two leading global science organizations (the International Council of Science and International Social Science Council - now the International Science Council) and a U.S. delegate to both the 32nd and 31st General Assembly of the International Council of Science as well as the 34th International Geological Congress (IGC) in 2012. In 2016, she was the first woman to lead a U.S. geoscience delegation to the International Geological Congress (IGC) in South Africa, a delegation of eight U.S. geoscience leaders that included six women - the first majority female U.S. delegation to an IGC in history. In 2013, she was appointed by Vermont’s Secretary of Commerce to the state’s first Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy committee and served a state commission supporting the future of sustainable investments in the environment and energy. She was the recipient of a 2013 HERS Fellowship for women leaders in higher education, has co-edited a published volume of essays about the future of engineering education and practice (Holistic Engineering Education: Beyond Technology; Springer, 2010), and has served as an invited speaker on issues including the practice of science policy and diplomacy, career paths in policy, and women’s leadership.

Burkins earned her B.S. in geology at Yale University and both her M.S. and Ph.D. at Dartmouth College, focusing her doctoral studies in earth and ecosystem studies of the Antarctic Dry Valleys. She currently serves on governing and advisory boards engaged in science policy advocacy, education, and women’s leadership.  

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6048 Haldeman Center
Environmental Studies
The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding
Ph.D. Dartmouth College
M.S. Dartmouth College
B.S. Yale University