Iowa State University Distinguished Professor named to National Academy of Sciences

AMES, Iowa – A Distinguished Professor at Iowa State University was elected to the National Academy of Sciences for her achievements in original research, the academy announced on Tuesday.

Catherine Kling, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences, professor of economics and the director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State, is among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 15 countries named to the academy.

“It’s with great pride that I learned of Dr. Kling’s election to the National Academy of Sciences,” said ISU President Steven Leath. “Dr. Kling joins some of the most distinguished scientists in the history of this institution as a member of the academy, and I join the rest of the Iowa State University community in congratulating her on this well-deserved honor.”
“The group of people elected to the National Academy of Sciences is awe-inspiring, and it’s an incredible honor to be among them,” Kling said. “I’ve tried my entire career to emulate the environmental economists in the section of the academy I’ve been elected to. I don’t really have the words to describe what an honor this is.”

Kling has made numerous contributions to natural resource and environmental economics, conducting innovative research throughout her career that melds environmental science with classical economics. She pioneered research on integrated water quality and economic models to help guide the design and implementation of conservation policies in the Midwest.

She developed methods to evaluate how people value environmental amenities and how that translates into support for environmental improvements. With that work, Kling helped to start the Iowa Lakes Valuation Project, a long-running survey of Iowans on the use of Iowa lakes that has informed both citizens and policymakers about the value of the state’s water resources.

Kling, a Bettendorf native, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Iowa in 1981 and a doctorate in economics from the University of Maryland in 1986. She joined the ISU Department of Economics in 1993 and became the director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development in 2013. Her husband, Terry Alexander, also is an ISU economist, and both of her children are enrolled at Iowa State.

Election to the academy is among the most prestigious honors given to U.S. scientists and engineers. Donald Duvick, an affiliate professor of agronomy elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002, was the last ISU scientist to join the academy. Kling is the eleventh ISU faculty member, and the first woman at the university, to receive the honor.

Those elected on Tuesday bring the total number of active members of the National Academy of Sciences to 2,250 and the total number of foreign associates to 452. Foreign associates are nonvoting members of the academy, with citizenship outside the United States.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and -- with the National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council -- provides science, technology, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

The following list notes all previous ISU faculty elected to the National Academy of Sciences:

Donald Duvick, agronomy, 2002
John D. Corbett, chemistry, 1992
Harley Moon, veterinary medicine, 1991
Arnel Hallauer, agronomy, 1989
John Bremner, agronomy, 1984
Orville Chapman, chemistry, 1974
Jay Lush, animal science, 1967
Frank Spedding, physics and materials science, 1952
Chester Werkman, bacteriology, 1946
Henry Gilman, chemistry, 1945