Meet the Board of Directors -- David Cairns

David CairnsDavid Cairns

David Cairns is a Member-at-Large of the Executive Committee of the ARCUS Board of Directors. He was elected to the Board in 2013.

David is a Professor and the Assistant Department Head of the Geography Department at Texas A&M University. His primary research interests are on the impacts of climate change on vegetation at short and long time scales in a variety of environments. The focus of his work is on ecotones, the transition zones between different vegetation types. Most of his fieldwork has been accomplished at tree line in the western United States, Alaska, and in northern Sweden. He also has projects in two other sensitive environments: saltmarshes on the coasts of Denmark and Texas, and tundra environments on the North Slope of Alaska. Dave uses a variety of approaches—including population genetics, dendroecological methods, and simulation modeling—to answer questions about how these environments respond to climate change.

Dave remarks that, "I came to research in the Arctic later in my career and found the community of researchers active in the Arctic to be both cohesive and welcoming. I've been very pleased with the degree of integration among individual researchers and their willingness to work together to solve difficult system-wide problems. Sometimes, I think we forget how special this interaction is within our community. ARCUS has been fundamental in facilitating that interaction. The programs and initiatives that ARCUS runs, for example ArcticInfo and PolarTREC, are critical to this interaction. ARCUS-sponsored meetings like the Arctic Forum were a key component of interaction among the community, and I hope that they will be again soon."

David Cairns can be contacted via email (cairns [at]