Dr Burkett is the Chief Scientist for Global Change Research at the US Geological Survey (USGS). She had formerly served as Chief of the Forest Ecology Branch at the National Wetlands Research Center and subsequently as Associate Regional Chief Biologist for the USGS Central Region. Prior to becoming a Department of Interior employee in 1991, Dr Burkett was Director of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. She has published extensively on the topics of global change and low-lying coastal zones. Nominated by the US government, she was a lead author of the coastal and marine impacts section for the Third (2001) and Fourth (2007) Assessment Reports of the IPCC. From 1998-2000, Dr Burkett was a member of the National Assessment Synthesis Team and coordinated both the Coastal and Southeast synthesis chapters of the US National Assessment of the Consequences of Climate Variability and Change. She received her B.S. in zoology and M.S. in botany from Northwestern State University of Louisiana. Her doctoral work in forestry was completed at Stephen F. Austin State University of Texas in 1996.
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