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, Ph.D., (GRAD '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 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, inclusion, and gender equality.

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Dr. Burkins is an elected member of the Founding Governing Board of the International Science Council (ISC), Vice Chair of the National Academies’ Board on International Scientific Organizations (BISO), Past Chair of the U.S. National Committee for Geological Sciences, Dartmouth's Councilor to UArctic, and a member of the Science Policy Exchange Governing Council. Her work in national and international governance directly informs her teaching of science policy and diplomacy at Dartmouth as well as her interests in ensuring the best science informs global challenges while advancing inclusion, equality, and sustainability (e.g., through advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs). 

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 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 her appointments 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, in 2010, co-edited Holistic Engineering Education: Beyond Technology (Springer), a collection of essays about the future of engineering education and practice.

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

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. 

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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