U announces new director of Institute on the Environment

The announcement ends a yearlong search for a new director.

Youssef Rddad

The University of Minnesota announced Jessica Hellmann as new director of the Institute on the Environment.

Hellmann’s appointment, announced Wednesday, comes after Jonathan Foley, the former director, left the position last summer, which prompted a yearlong search for the institute’s new leader.

Hellmann is an associate professor in the University of Notre Dame’s Biological Sciences Department,

Three final candidates, including Hellmann, were considered for the position in May following the search. In a Wednesday University press release, Vice President for Research Brian Herman said Hellmann’s background in ecology and climate change will help the institute address challenges.

She’ll also be a faculty member in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior.

 “The IonE is a really strong and very well-known institution globally, and I’m looking forward to building on that,” Hellmann said, adding that Minnesota’s environmental challenges echo global environmental concerns like urbanization and biodiversity, which she said, make the state an ideal place for environmental research.

Hellmann will be leaving Norte Dame after working at the school for more than a decade. She received a PhD in biology from Stanford University.

“I’m quite sad to leave, but when new adventures and new opportunities come up in life, you’ve got to take them,” Hellmann said.

She will begin at the institute Aug. 31.