L. Scott Mills
Fellow: Awarded 2009
Field of Study: Organismic Biology & Ecology
Competition: US & Canada
Dr. L. Scott Mills is Associate Vice President of Research for Global Change and Sustainability, and a Wildlife Biology Professor, at the University of Montana. From 2013 to 2016 he coordinated cross-cutting research initiatives in a focal initiative on Global Environmental Change and Human Well-Being as a Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence hire at North Carolina State University.
As an applied wildlife population biologist, Dr. Mills’ research integrates field studies, DNA-based genetic analyses, and computer models to understand how wild animal populations–and their associated ecosystems–respond to human-caused global changes. Some of the species he has studied include salamanders, snowshoe hares, snow leopards, coyotes, elephants, tigers, lynx, bighorn sheep, fruit bats, voles, marmots, and mountain lions. One of his primary current research themes centers on how well animals may be able to adapt to rapid human-caused stressors, including climate change. His work is international in scope, with graduate students from and research collaborations in Scotland, Portugal, Sweden, India, Bhutan, New Zealand, and Russia.
Early in his career at University of Montana, Dr. Mills was awarded one of the most prestigious awards given by National Science Foundation to junior faculty: A Faculty Early Career Development award. Since then he has published over 100 scientific articles and 3 books, and has given over 150 professional presentations including testimony to the U.S. Congress on the role of ethics in conservation science. His textbook, Conservation of Wildlife Populations: Demography, Genetics, and Management, is already widely used by students and professionals throughout the world. Even children are being introduced to his work: in Hopping Ahead of Climate Change (2016), Sneed B. Collard III explains for his young audience Dr. Mills’ study of the effect of global warming on snowshoe hares.
Dr. Mills has served on invited committees for the National Science Foundation, National Park Service, National Forest Service, the International Whaling Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service, and Biodiversity evaluation panels in Sweden. He also was a member of the Board of Governors for the Society of Conservation Biology, served on the Western Governor’s Association Policy working group on Climate Change Effects on Wildlife, and was a Contributing author to the North America section of the Nobel-Prize winning report from the 2007 International Panel on Climate Change. Since 2013 he has been a member of the Lagomorph Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In a strong relationship with Bhutan, fostered by his Guggenheim award, he works with Bhutanese colleagues to study tigers, snow leopards and elephants, and is on the advisory board of the Bhutan Foundation in Washington, D.C. (2014–) and the editorial board of Proceedings of the Bhutan Ecological Society (2014–).
His research has been covered by media outlets including The Nature of Things with David Suzuki, Discovery Channel Canada, National Public Radio, National Geographic, Science News, Science, and a number of popular magazines and newspapers.