After a national search, the Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI) at Northern Arizona University has named prominent quantitative forest ecologist and cutting-edge researcher Andrew Sánchez Meador as its new executive director. He replaces ERI founder and long-time executive director Wally Covington, who retired in January.
Sánchez Meador is a trusted expert among ecologists, scientists and land managers for his high-impact research in forestry and ecological restoration and innovative approach to science delivery and communication.
He is joining the ERI from NAU’s School of Forestry, where he served as faculty for eight years and is an associate professor of forest biometrics and quantitative ecology. Sánchez Meador’s scholarly interests have largely been focused on ecological restoration of frequent-fire forests of the southwestern United States; improving scientists’ understanding of how disturbances, such as wildfire, shape forests; and championing the incorporation of new technologies in forestry and ecological restoration practices.
Sánchez Meador is a well-known innovator in the areas of forest and landscape-level data collection and analysis. His forward-looking approach to using remote sensing tools, data visualization techniques and emerging technology will continue to help modernize and advance the restoration of forest ecosystems.
“Forest health is critical to the environment and economy in northern Arizona and beyond, and the ERI is leading the way to the future of forest science discovery,” said NAU President Rita Cheng. “I’m pleased to welcome Andrew into this new position and look forward to his leadership as the ERI continues to work toward solving the forest health problem in the face of catastrophic fire and changing climatic conditions.”
As executive director, Sánchez Meador will advance the institute’s focus on restoring western forest landscapes using innovative technologies, service to Native American tribes, promoting novel solutions for the use of tree biomass and wood products and actively engaging with the people and communities that influence land management and depend on these forests.
“As the executive director, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to build on the ERI and NAU’s core strengths of outstanding academics, research, public service and creative problem solving,” Sánchez Meador said. “I’m keenly interested in how new innovations from outside the forestry and restoration sector can be adopted to increase our effectiveness and capacity to do forest restoration.”
Prior to teaching at NAU’s School of Forestry, Sánchez Meador worked for the U.S. Forest Service Washington Office as a biometrician and the Lincoln National Forest in southern New Mexico as the forest restoration program manager. He has served on the boards of the Society of American Foresters and the Greater Flagstaff Forest Partnership. In 2017, the School of Forestry at NAU awarded him Teacher of Year. Sánchez Meador will assume his role as executive director July 1.