John Atwater and Diana Nelson University Professor of Environmental Studies


for more information see:

Laurence C. Smith is the John Atwater and Diana Nelson University Professor of Environmental Studies in the Institute at Brown for Environment & Society (IBES) and the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences (DEEPS) at Brown University.  Previously, he was Professor and Chair of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he also held a joint appointment in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences. His research interests include the Arctic, water resources, and satellite remote sensing technologies.  He has published over 150 peer-reviewed articles, essays and books including in the journals Science, Nature, and PNAS, and won more than $16M in research funding from the National Science Foundation and NASA. In 2006-2007 he was named a Guggenheim Fellow by the John S. Guggenheim Foundation and in 2015, he was elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). His work has appeared prominently in Assessment Reports of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  He is currently assisting NASA with a new satellite mission to monitor global water resources, and the World Economic Forum with social science issues of Arctic development.  In 2012, 2014, 2016 he was an invited speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos.  

His general-audience book THE WORLD IN 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future (Plume: New York, 2011; U.K. edition titled THE NEW NORTH, Profile: London, 2011 with translations in 14 languages) synthesizing cross-cutting trends in natural resource demand, demographics, globalization, and climate change with emphasis on northern countries was winner of the Walter P. Kistler Book Award and a NATURE Editor's Pick of 2012. His second book RIVERS OF POWER, about rivers and society (Hachette Group USA/Canada; Penguin Press U.K; plus overseas translation editions), was a GEOGRAPHICAL Best Book of 2020.  His research has received coverage in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Globe and Mail, The Financial Times, Discover Magazine, NPR,CBC Radio, BBC and others.

Some examples of media coverage include


Brown Affiliations

Research Areas