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Source: Marcelus Caldas, 785-532-6727,
Photo available. Contact or 785-532-2535.

Monday, Nov. 1, 2010


MANHATTAN -- A geographer who has traveled Amazonia extensively for his research will take part in Kansas State University's Distinguished Lecturer Series.

Robert Walker, professor of geography at Michigan State University, will present "Biofuels and the Green Energy of Amazonia" at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, in the Cottonwood Room at the K-State Student Union. The lecture is free and open to the public. Sponsors include the provost's office; the department of geography and Marcelus Caldas, assistant professor of geography; Ben Champion, director of sustainability at K-State; the department of agronomy; the Division of Biology; and K-State's chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the international honor society in geography.

While biofuels represent a renewable and green energy source, they have a downside. Walker will discuss how the demand for biofuels is putting a strain on the ecology of Amazonia. His lecture will look at the rapid expansion of Brazilian agriculture, rising beef consumption and how more Amazonian land will be in demand than is available under current conservation policy.

Since the early 1990s Walker has led a number of field activities in the Amazon basin, studying the land-use decision of households, the spatial processes of road building, and the impacts of land reform on tropical forests. His work has been supported by more than $6 million in grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other sources. His research has been published in several high-profile journals, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Global Environmental Change, Journal of Land Use Science, Journal of Regional Science, Economic Geography, Geoforum, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and the Annals of the Association of America Geographers.

He is on a scientific steering committee in the College of Global Change and Earth System Science at China's Beijing Normal University, and with a committee involved with the Large-Scale Biosphere/Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia, which is an international effort led by NASA and the Brazilian minister of science and technology. He also is on the advisory board of the Amazon Institute of People and Environment and the editorial board of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers. His many honors include a Gilbert White Fellowship and serving as a Fulbright scholar.

Walker earned a bachelor's in chemistry and a master's in environmental engineering from the University of Florida, and a doctorate in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania.