Ecological Society of America Honors Baylor Environmental Scientist with Sustainability Science Award | Media and public relations


Ryan A. McManamay, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental science at Baylor University. (Robert Rogers / Baylor University)

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WACO, Texas (April 6, 2021) – Ryan A. McManamay, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental science at Baylor University, is among the recipients of the Sustainability Science Award announced today by the Ecological Society of America (ESA).

The Sustainable Development Science Award is awarded to the authors of a scientific book that makes the greatest contribution to the emerging science of the sustainability of ecosystems and regions through the integration of ecological and social sciences. One of the most pressing challenges facing humanity is the sustainability of important ecological, social and cultural processes in the face of changing forces that shape ecosystems and regions.

In September 2017, while at the Urban Dynamics Institute at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, McManamay and his co-authors from Oak Ridge, Northern Arizona University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville published “U.S. Cities Can Manage National Hydrology and Biodiversity Using Local Infrastructure Policy“in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), one of the most cited and comprehensive multidisciplinary scientific journals in the world.

“I am truly honored that our work is recognized with such a prestigious award, especially when I look back on the list of previous recipients, many renowned scientists whose contributions have helped shape my perspective on the science of sustainable development,” said McManamay said.

McManamay and his interdisciplinary team used spatially referenced data from surrounding cities and rural areas to show how local and regional policy choices can affect the integrity of the hydrologic system and the conservation of biodiversity. Their work highlights ways to make better choices in land use, water management and power generation, and it promotes integrated planning and decision-making for greater sustainability of communities. cities and the water and energy basins that support them. Their research demonstrates a new approach to integrating ecosystem and social sciences, embodying the mission of ESA’s Sustainability Science Award.

“The award means a lot to me because it validates a long-term decision to pursue interdisciplinary science – which at times can be isolating if the scientific identity is strongly linked to a disciplinary line of research or to a community. In other words, the award is a milestone and makes me feel that our research has focus and is valued, ”he said.

McManamay, who joined Baylor’s Faculty of Environmental Sciences in 2019, is a space ecologist who studies human-environmental systems in order to balance the needs of ecosystems and society, particularly the large-scale impacts of humans on natural landscapes, such as energy development, on aquatic ecosystems. . His formal training focuses on stream ecology and fisheries ecology, with an emphasis on environmental flows and river restoration.

McManamay’s research assesses natural and anthropogenic models in hydrology, infrastructure and impacts on aquatic species, spans a number of scales, and includes both terrain and modeling analyzes at the ecosystem, community and populations. He is also studying new approaches to carry out biological monitoring and cataloging of biodiversity. One of his specific interests is how to design sustainable future cities with regard to changes in land cover, changes in regional and global water balances and changes in biodiversity.

He was a research fellow at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory from 2013 to 2019 and was also a joint faculty member at the Bredesen Center at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville from 2016 to 2019, before continuing his academic career at Baylor.

“Maybe I chose Baylor, or maybe we chose each other,” McManamay said. “At the institutional level, Baylor has an unwavering mission with great aspirations, such as working hard to achieve R1 status – honestly, I wanted to be a part of that – and helping to develop a dimension of environmental science in that kind of atmosphere. But also, Baylor seemed like a land of opportunity supported by a community of supportive researchers at all levels of their careers. And through my interactions within the Department and College of Arts and Sciences, I have found that that was true.

McManamay is a member of the American Geophysical Union, the American Fisheries Society, and an alumnus of the Emerging Leaders in Environmental and Energy Policy (ELEEP) group. He is associate editor of Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. He received his BA in Biological Sciences from Clemson University and his Masters in Biological Sciences and PhD. in Virginia Tech’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation.

“Baylor University and the Department of Environmental Sciences are fortunate to have Ryan McManamay as a colleague,” said George P. Cobb, Ph.D., professor and chair of environmental science. “It is gratifying to see the significant positive impacts it has made on the sustainability of ecological systems.

ESA will present its 2021 awards at a ceremony at the Society’s next virtual annual meeting, which will take place August 2-6.

“This year’s winners have demonstrated remarkable leadership and creativity,” said Kathleen Weathers, ESA President. “On behalf of the Ecological Society of America, I congratulate the award recipients and thank them for their significant contribution to building ecological knowledge and the environmental community.


Baylor University is a private Christian university and nationally classified research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community to over 19,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for pedagogical excellence and faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Accredited in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and over 90 countries to study a wide range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The College of Arts & Sciences is the largest academic division of Baylor University, consisting of 25 academic departments and eight academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught at the College cover subjects ranging from art and theater to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Professors conduct research all over the world, and research at the undergraduate and graduate level is widespread across all disciplines. Visit


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