DURHAM, N.C. – Xavier Basurto, associate professor of sustainability science at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, has been named a Bass Chair in recognition of excellence in undergraduate teaching and research.

Faculty members who are selected for the university-wide honor receive membership in the Bass Society of Fellows and named professorships. 

Basurto will be Truman and Nellie Semans/Alex Brown & Sons Associate Professor of Sustainability Science, effective July 1 through June 30, 2027.

He and this year’s other Bass Chair recipients were honored at a dinner and ceremony May 24.

Widely respected for his scholarship on the governance and theory of common-pool resources and community-based management, particularly of small-scale fisheries and protected areas, Basurto leads the Coasts and Commons Co-Laboratory based at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, N.C.

In partnership with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and the nongovernmental organization WorldFish, he and his Duke colleagues are heading an international effort called Illuminating Hidden Harvests to document small-fisheries’ global contributions to sustainable development through their beneficial impacts on incomes, livelihoods, nutrition and food security.

A prolific researcher and teacher, Basurto has authored or co-authored nearly 90 peer-reviewed papers over his career and has taught dozens of graduate and undergraduate courses, including highly rated field courses to study small-scale fisheries in Mexico’s Gulf of California, since joining the Duke faculty in 2009.

Last year, he helped develop a groundbreaking new university course for undergraduates called “The Invention and Consequences of Race” that examined how race is embedded in topics and disciplines studied across Duke’s campus, from history and political science to medicine and environmental management. 

The Bass program, established through a gift to Duke in 1996 from Anne T. and Richard M. Bass, honors faculty members who have achieved “true excellence in both research and teaching, and are good university citizens.” The Bass Society provides an opportunity for some of Duke's most celebrated educators to pool their experiences and resources and collaborate on innovative, interdisciplinary research and teaching initiatives.  

Nine other Nicholas School faculty members previously have been selected for Bass Chairs and membership in the Bass Society. They are Emily Bernhardt, Richard Forward, Emily Klein, Susan Lozier, Joel Meyer, Lincoln Pratson, Daniel Rittschof, Erika Weinthal and Jennifer Wernegreen