Dr. Jianguo (Jack) Liu is a human-environment scientist and sustainability scholar. He is the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability and University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University (MSU). He also directs the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability. Dr. Liu has been with MSU since completing his postdoctoral work at Harvard University. He is also a guest professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a visiting scholar at Stanford (2001–2002), Harvard (2008), and Princeton (2009).

Dr. Liu is particularly keen to connect seemingly unconnected issues (e.g., divorce and environmental sustainability). His broad research interests include household-environment interactions, complexity of coupled human and natural systems (CHANS), sustainability science, China’s environment, and globalization. He takes a holistic approach to addressing complex human-environmental challenges through systems integration (i.e., integrating multiple disciplines such as ecology and social sciences).

One of the research frontiers that Dr. Liu and collaborators have been exploring is the environmental effects of household proliferation. Two of the major findings are that household numbers have increased much faster than human population sizes globally, especially in countries with biodiversity hotspots, and even increase substantially when populations decline. Because the household is a basic socioeconomic unit, household proliferation has important implications for the environment. The findings demonstrate the strong need for re-examining the roles of population size and growth rate as the main conventional ultimate indicators of human demand for resources and human impacts on the environment. Dr. Liu’s other projects include studying the complex interactions among people, panda habitat, and policies in China; and the International Network of Research on Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS-Net). These projects provide unique insights that traditional disciplinary research could not generate. For example, the work in China has revealed many surprising results, such as accelerated ecological degradation in high-profile protected areas for world-famous endangered giant pandas.  

Dr. Liu’s research has been published in various journals, such as Nature and Science. A selection of publications can be found here. His work has also been featured in news media worldwide, including newspapers (e.g., The New York Times), magazines (e.g., Newsweek), radio (e.g., National Public Radio, BBC), television (e.g., CNN, China Central Television), news networks (e.g., The Associated Press, China’s official Xinhua News Agency), and the Internet. In addition, his work has been frequently used in the classroom and by government agencies and resource management organizations.

Dr. Liu has served on numerous national and international committees and panels, including those of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the College of Reviewers for the Canada Research Chairs Program, and the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development. He has served on editorial boards of approximately a dozen professional journals. With support from NASA, MSU, and many people, in 1998 Dr. Liu founded the NASA-MSU Professional Enhancement Awards Program that has supported more than 220 students from approximately 100 institutions around the world to attend the annual conferences of the U.S. Regional Association of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (US-IALE). Currently, Dr. Liu is president of US-IALE. 

Dr. Liu has received many honors and awards, such as being named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Guggenheim Fellowship Award, NSF CAREER Award, US-IALE Distinguished Service Award and the Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship from the Ecological Society of America.


Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability
115 Manly Miles Building
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
517-432-5025 (phone)
517-432-5066 (fax)