UW News

April 5, 2023

UW’s Phil Levin to direct first-ever US National Nature Assessment

headshot wearing blue checked shirt and glasses

Phil Levin

The Biden-Harris Administration on April 3 announced the appointment of Phil Levin, professor of practice in environmental and forest sciences at the University of Washington and lead scientist at The Nature Conservancy in Washington state, as director for the first-ever U.S. National Nature Assessment.

The NNA will take an interdisciplinary approach to better understand the role of nature in the lives of people across the country, integrating science with traditional ways of knowing and the needs of communities. The assessment intends to take stock of what nature provides people through its inherent value, human well-being, economic value and more, and look ahead to understand how these benefits might change under future climate conditions. The assessment is expected to be released in 2026.

“Successful conservation, especially in the face of an uncertain climate, is built on the knowledge and collaboration of tribes, stakeholders, scientists, natural resource managers and local leaders. We all have a stake in — and can contribute to — a sustainable future,” Levin said. “This collaboration will be key to the success of the National Nature Assessment, enabling us to develop a holistic understanding of nature in the United States.”

With decades of experience bridging scientific knowledge and on-the-ground action through an interdisciplinary lens, Levin will guide the initiative as it creates a holistic picture of America’s lands, waters, wildlife and ecosystems — and the benefits they provide to both people and nature.

During this appointment, he will continue to advise UW graduate students and postdoctoral researchers and step away from his position at TNC, returning to the UW when his appointment is finished. Mike Stevens, state director for TNC Washington, recognized the contributions Levin has made over the past six years through his dual appointment at TNC and the UW.

“Through his commitment to collaborative research and support of students, Phil has transformed how TNC conducts science. He’s helped shape the next generation of scientists, brought together experts across disciplines, and worked to better integrate equity and social sciences into our conservation efforts. We’re proud to see him recognized at the national level and are confident that his enthusiasm for conservation benefiting people and nature will be echoed in the NNA, as it has through his work here in Washington.”

Much of Levin’s recent work addresses environmental justice issues, documenting and identifying ways to overcome the disproportionate impacts of floods, fires and heat waves on different communities, including through direct community engagement. He previously served as senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center and as the scientific lead of NOAA’s Integrated Ecosystem Assessment efforts along the U.S. West Coast.


For more information, contact Levin at pslevin@uw.edu. See a related post from TNC Washington.