Jianguo "Jack" Liu, PhD


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Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability and Director, Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability
Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability


An ecologist, human-environment scientist and sustainability scholar, Jianguo "Jack" Liu holds the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability, is University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University and serves as director of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability.

Liu takes a holistic approach to addressing complex human-environmental challenges through systems integration, such as the integration of ecology with social sciences, policy and advanced technologies. He is particularly keen to connect seemingly unconnected issues, for example, telecoupling, divorce and environmental sustainability. His work has been published in journals such as Nature and Science and has been widely covered by the international news media.

Jack_treeLiu has served on various international and national committees and panels. He was a member of the Board of Reviewing Editors for Science and has been named to the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification. Also, Liu was a coordinating lead author of the global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services organized by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

Liu also is the founder of the International Network of Research on Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS-Net.org) and is a past president of the U.S. Regional Association of the International Association for Landscape Ecology.

In recognition of his efforts and achievements in research, teaching, and service, Liu has received many awards, such as being elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters and named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). 

He has received the World Sustainability Award from the MDPI Sustainability Foundation, the Gunnerus Award in Sustainability Science from The Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters and Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the Guggenheim Fellowship Award, the CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, and the Distinguished Landscape Ecologist Award and the Distinguished Service Award from US-IALE. From the Ecological Society of America, Liu has been honored with the Eminent Ecologist Award, the  Sustainability Science Award, the Innovation in Sustainability Science Award and the Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship, as well as being named a fellow in the society.

He was interviewed by the MDPI Sustainability Foundation about global interconnectivity and sustainability and by the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters & Norwegian University of Science and Technology about why there is still hope for our planet.

He is a global “Highly Cited Researcher” according to Clarivate Analytics.

Liu came to MSU after completing his postdoctoral work at Harvard University. He also was a visiting scholar at Stanford, Harvard and Princeton.


Areas of Interest:

Coupled human and natural systems (CHANS); sustainability; telecoupling; metacoupling; conservation; environment; forest dynamics; climate mitigation and adaptation; natural carbon capture; ecological economics; biodiversity; ecosystem services; food security; water security; landscapes; applications of GIS and remote sensing technology; household-environment interactions; systems integration and modeling

Selected Publications:

Nature - Assessing progress towards sustainable development over space and time   2020

Telecoupling - Exploring Land-Use Change in a Globalised World - What is Telecoupling?  2019

Nature Sustainability - Nexus approaches to global sustainable development  2018

Ecology and Society - Integration across a metacoupled world  2017

Pandas and People - Coupling Human and Natural Systems for Sustainability   2016

Science - Systems integration for global sustainability  2015

Ecology and Society - Framing Sustainability in a Telecoupled World  2013

PNAS - Environmental Impacts of Divorce  2007

Science - Complexity of Coupled Human and Natural Systems  2007

Nature - China’s Environment in a Globalizing World-How China and the Rest of the World Affect Each Other  2005

Nature - Effects of household dynamics on resource consumption and biodiversity 2003

Science - Ecological degradation in protected areas: The Case of Wolong Nature Reserve for Giant Pandas 2001

Publications and Research Profile:

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Selected Media:


panda_ThumbnailPandas and People