DURHAM, N.C. – Ruth S. DeFries, a professor of ecology and sustainable development at Columbia University, will present the 2016 Henry J. Oosting Memorial Lecture in Ecology at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24, at Duke University.

Her talk, “Food, Nature and Land in an Urbanizing World,” will be held in Love Auditorium in the Levine Science Research Center on Duke’s West Campus. It is free and open to the public.

An authority on environmental geography and sustainable development with more than 100 peer-reviewed papers to her credit, DeFries uses images and data from satellites and field surveys to examine how the world’s growing demands for food and other resources are altering land use and contributing to deforestation throughout the tropics.

Her research has helped the scientific community quantify more accurately how these land-use changes affect climate, biodiversity and other ecosystem services, as well as human development. She has also developed innovative educational programs on sustainable development; has worked to link her science to policy through active involvement in programs such as the High Carbon Stock study on sustainable palm oil; and is the author of the widely cited book, “The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis.”

DeFries holds the Danning Family Professorship in Sustainable Development at Columbia. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was a 2007 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius’ Fellowship.

A reception will precede DeFries’ lecture at 3:30 p.m. in the Hall of Science, adjacent to Love Auditorium.

The Oosting Lecture, now in its 44th year, is presented by Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, the University Program in Ecology and the Department of Biology.