Melody Brown Burkins

Academic Appointments

Associate Director, The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding
Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies
Senior Fellow, UArctic Institute of Arctic Policy

Melody Brown Burkins, Ph.D., (GR '95 '98) is the Associate Director for Programs and Research in the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, Senior Fellow in the UArctic Institute of Arctic Policy, and Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies at Dartmouth. With over twenty-five years of experience in both academia and government, she is an advocate for policy-engaged scholarship across disciplines, experiential education, and the support of global science and diplomacy initiatives - from the Arctic to the Middle East - advancing sustainability, inclusion, gender equality, and peace.

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A "science diplomat," Dr. Burkins is an elected member of the Founding Governing Board of the International Science Council (ISC), Chair of the National Academies’ Board on International Scientific Organizations (BISO), Past Chair of the U.S. National Committee for Geological Sciences, and was recently appointed to the United Nations' Office of Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) Global Assessment Report (GAR) Advisory Board. Her work to advance science policy and diplomacy directly informs her teaching at Dartmouth (ENVS80: The Practice of Science Policy and Diplomacy) and her interests in ensuring the best knowledge is applied to pressing global challenges, from climate change to poverty alleviation. She is faculty advisor to the Dartmouth Science, Technology, and Engineering Policy Society (STEPS), serves on an advisory board to the Science Diplomacy Division of the International Network of Government Science Advisors (INGSA), and works with international colleagues to develop platforms for science policy and diplomacy in service of a more inclusive and equitable society. This, she believes, includes prioritizing and incentivizing reciprocity and collaboration with local communities, respecting indigenous and local knowledge, and promoting efforts to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, Dr. Burkins also maintains strong personal and professional connections to the North and cares deeply about the future of Arctic communities and landscapes. Serving as Dartmouth's Councilor to the UArctic global network, she works closely with Dartmouth's Institute of Arctic Studies and, in addition to her role as a Senior Fellow in the UArctic Institute for Arctic Policy, she also serves as Vice Lead of the UArctic Model Arctic Council Thematic Network and is a founding member of the UArctic Gender in Arctic Knowledge Production Thematic Network. At Dartmouth, she advises the student group, Aurora, an organization celebrating Alaskan culture and connecting students to future opportunities in the North. Burkins worked with Canadian and Alaskan colleagues to host the first Arctic Science Diplomacy and Leadership Workshop at Dartmouth in 2017 and is invited to speak on issues of Arctic science diplomacy, gender equity and inclusion, and the training of next-generation leaders in global venues ranging from Finland to Oman

After receiving her Ph.D. from Dartmouth and serving as a Visiting Assistant Professor in Dartmouth's Environmental Studies program in 1998, Burkins was awarded a prestigious 1999-2000 AAAS Congressional Science and Technology Policy Fellowship sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Geological Society of America (GSA). She worked briefly as a AAAS Fellow before being asked to serve as the formal energy and environment policy advisor to U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy in Washington, D.C., a position in which she served through 2003. Returning north, she spent over a decade at the University of Vermont (UVM) in a diversity of leadership and management roles including 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, interim director of the UVM supercomputing facility, and senior director for research and strategic initiatives with the Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate College.

Burkins' work in both academic and policy leadership has led to appointments by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences 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 co-edited a book of invited essays, Holistic Engineering Education: Beyond Technology (Springer, 2010), about the future of engineering education and practice.

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

Burkins earned her B.S. in geology at Yale and both her M.S. and Ph.D. at Dartmouth, focusing her doctoral studies in earth and ecosystem studies of the Antarctic Dry Valleys. 

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603-646-2053
146 Haldeman
Department(s): 
Environmental Studies
Center(s): 
The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding
Education: 
Ph.D. Dartmouth
M.S. Dartmouth
B.S. Yale

Selected works and activities

Founding Member, UArctic Gender in the Arctic Knowledge Production Thematic Network, 2020

Advisory Board, Global Assessment Report (GAR), United Nations' Office of Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), 2020

Governing Board Member, International Science Council (ISC), 2018-present

Chair, U.S. National Academies’ Board on International Scientific Organizations (BISO), 2019-present

Past Chair, U.S. National Committee for Geological Sciences (USNC-GS)

Invited Participant and SPIDER Advisory Board Member, Global Meeting of the Foreign Ministries Science & Technology Advice Network (FMSTAN) and Science Policy in Diplomacy and External Relations (SPIDER) Network, Vienna, Austria, November 25-26, 2019.

Invited Participant & Speaker: 2019 STRINGS Workshop: Steering Research and Innovation for Global Goals, University of Sussex; London, November 2019

Invited Speaker for Women’s Equality Day, U.S. Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (US-CRREL), August 30, 2019.

Invited Speaker, “Inclusive Science Diplomacy,” American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Center for Science and Diplomacy and The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) “Train the Trainers” Science Diplomacy and Leadership Workshop, Trieste, Italy, August 27-29, 2019.

Invited Participant, “Sustainability Science 2.0” Workshop of the US Global Hub for Future Earth and Science and Technology for Sustainability Program of the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics, George Mason University, Arlington, VA, June 21, 2019.

Invited Panelist & SPIDER Advisory Board Member, "STI Diplomacy for the Sustainable Development Goals," International Forum for Science and Technology Diplomacy (IFSTD), Muscat, Oman, February 9-13, 2019

UArctic Observer to the Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) and Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) Meetings, Rovaniemi, Finland, 29 October–2 November 2018

Lead Organizer & Host, "Science and Diplomacy in the Arctic" Leadership Conference and Model Arctic Council Simulation, John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA, June 26-30, 2017

Vice Lead, UArctic Model Arctic Council Thematic Network (2017-present); Member, UArctic Science Diplomacy Thematic Network (2018-present)

Interview: "Geology & Diplomacy," The Foreign Policy Project Podcast, January 12, 2017

Global Engagement to Advance Inclusion, Equity, and Sustainability