Ross A. Virginia

Academic Appointments
  • Myers Family Professor of Environmental Science, Department of Environmental Studies

  • Distinguished Stefansson-Nef Arctic Faculty Fellow, Institute of Arctic Studies, Dickey Center for International Understanding

  • Global Fellow, Polar Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC

  • Member, US National Academies Polar Research Board

Connect with Us

I am an ecosystem ecologist and member of the Environmental Studies Department. I am interested in how rapid environmental change affects ecosystems and society.  My research examines how climate change alters vegetation and soil and the ecological services they provide. This work centers on soil biodiversity and carbon and nitrogen cycling in the polar deserts of Antarctica and in the tundra of western Greenland. My teaching considers the relationships between the disciplines of ecology, ecosystem science, and environmental law as they are relevant in understanding a rapidly changing Arctic and its Indigenous communities. I am active in Arctic policy and global environmental issues as past director of Dartmouth's Institute of Arctic Studies in the Dickey Center for International Understanding and as co-director of the University of the Arctic Institute for Arctic Policy. As one of two distinguished lead scholars for the U.S. Department of State Fulbright Arctic Initiative I was priviledged to bring together thematic teams of researchers from the eight Arctic nations to focus on issues of community resilience and sustainability under rapid social, political, and environmental change. I contribute to setting polar science research priorities as a member of the US National Academies Polar Research Board and Arctic education and research collaboration as a Board member of the Univeristy of the Arctic (UArctic) and Ilisimatusarfik (the University of Greenland).


Steele, Room 109
HB 6182


Environmental Studies


The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding


  • B.S. SUNY College Envl. Sci and Forestry
  • M.S. University of California Davis
  • Ph.D. University of California Davis

Selected Publications

  • Adams, L. V., D. S. Dorough, S. Chatwood, W. Erasmus, H. Eriksen, S. Ford, R. A. Virginia, S. Watt-Cloutier. 2022. Accelerating Indigenous health and wellbeing: the Lancet Commission on Arctic and Northern Health. The Lancet: 399:613-614, February 12, 2022, DOI:

  • Luers, A., L. Yona, C. B. Fields, R. B. Jackson, K. J. Mach, B. Cashore, C. Elliott, L. Gifford, C. Honisberg, L. Klaassen, H. D. Matthews, A. Peng, C. Stoll, M. Van Pelt, R. A. Virginia, and L. Joppa. 2022. Making greenhouse gas accounting reliable- build interoperable systems. Nature 607, 653-656 (2022), doi:

  • Finger Higgens, R., M. H. DeSiervo, M. P. Ayres, and R. A. Virginia. 2021. Warming temperatures are associated with increased shrub herbivory in West Greenland. Oecologia,

  • DeSirervo, M. H., M. P. Ayres, R. A. Virginia, and L. E. Culler. 2020. Consumer-resource dynamics in Arctic ponds. Ecology, DOI:10.1002/ecy.3135

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Works In Progress

Selected Works & Activities

In the NEWS

Welcome to the State of Virginia, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine faculty profile, July/August 2012

Virginia Valley, Antarctica:  An upland valley E of Wall Valley in Olympus Range, located between the N part of Mount Electra on the W, and Mount Circe and Mount Dido on the E. The valley opens N to McKelvey Valley. Named by Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (US-ACAN) (2004) after Ross A. Virginia, Environmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH; U.S. Antarctic Project (USAP) soils biologist in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, 13 field seasons, 1989-2002.

77° 29' 00" S, 160° 56' 00" E

Facilitating increased engagement between the research communities of Greenland and the U.S. Workshop Report, August 27-28, 2019, Nuuk Greenland.  Wilson Center Greenland Dialogue webinar featuring this report.

Report urges action on Arctic protection by Dartmouth and its partners in the University of the Arctic Institute for Arctic Policy and the Carengie Endowment for International Peace.

America must act on the North and South Poles. The National Interest Op-Ed, September 11, 2018

How America can step up its role in the Arctic. The National Interest. April 20, 2015, Opinion Editorial

The U.S. and a Peaceful Arctic Future, The Hill, August 8, 2014

Hands Across the Melting Ice, NY Times OP-ED, May 13, 2013


Arctic health and wellness- A conference hosted by the Institute of Arctic Studies and the Fulbright Arctic Initiaitve, January 2016.

Lectures and Presentations