Melody Brown Burkins

Academic Appointments

Associate Director, The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding
Adjunct Professor, 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 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), and Past Chair of the U.S. National Committee for Geological Sciences. Her work to advance science policy and diplomacy directly informs her teaching at Dartmouth (ENVS80: The Practice of Science Policy and Diplomacy) as well as 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, e.g., incentivizing reciprocity and collaboration, 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, is a Senior Fellow in the UArctic Institute for Arctic Policy and serves as Vice Lead of the UArctic Model Arctic Council Thematic Network. She also advises Aurora at Dartmouth, a student-led 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 continues to serve as an invited speaker on issues of Arctic science diplomacy, gender equity and inclusion, and the training of next generation leaders from Finland to Oman

After receiving her Ph.D. from Dartmouth and serving as a Visiting Assistant Professor 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 fellow before serving as the formal energy and environment policy advisor to U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy in Washington, D.C. though 2003. Returning north, she spent over fourteen years 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, 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 have 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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146 Haldeman
Environmental Studies
The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding
Ph.D. Dartmouth
M.S. Dartmouth
B.S. Yale