Jessica J Hellmann

Director, Institute on the Environment, Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior

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Personal profile


Ryan, S., J. M. Deines, J. M. Scriber, M. E. Pfrender, S. E. Jones, S. J. Emrich and J. J. Hellmann. 2018. Climate-mediated hybrid zone movement revealed with genomics, museum collection, and simulation modeling. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In press

Kriss, M. R., J. J. Hellmann, E. Lonsdorf, N. Springer, P. H. Kriss, M. Horster. 2017. A geofinancial engineering initiative: using real-time environmental data from satellites to move financial markets and improve climate outcomes. Journal of Environmental Investing 8: 129-159. 

Ryan, S. F., M. C. Fontaine, J. M. Scriber, M. E. Pfrender, S. T. O’Neil, and J. J. Hellmann. 2017. Patterns of divergence across the geographic and genomic landscape of a butterfly hybrid zone associated with a climatic gradient. Molecular Ecology 26: 4725-4742. 

Grecequet, M., J. DeWaard, J. J. Hellmann, and G. Abel. 2017. Climate vulnerability and human migration in global perspective. Sustainability 9: 720. 

Keeler, B. L., R. Chaplin-Kramer, A. D. Guerry, P. F. E. Addison, C. Bettigole, I. C. Burke, L. Chambliss, C. Darimont, B. Gentry, D. R Gordon, J. J. Hellmann, P. Kareiva, S. Monfort, L. Olander, H. P. Possingham, T. Profeta, C. Schlotterback, E. Sterling, T. Ticktin, A. J. Travis, B. Vira, and C. Young. 2017. Society is ready for a new kind of science–is academia? BioScience 67: 591-592.

Barnosky, A. D., E. A. Hadly, P. Gonzalez, J. Head, P. D. Polly, A. M. Lawing, J. T. Eronen, D. D. Ackerly, K. Alex, E. Biber, J. Blois, J. Brashares, B. Ceballos, E. Davis, G. P. Dietl, R. Dirzo, H. Dormeuse, M. Fortblies, H. Greene, J. Hellmann, T. Hickler, S. T. Jackson, M. Kemp, P. L. Koch, C. Kremen, E. L. Lindsey, C. Looy, C. R. Marshall, C. Mendenhall, A. Mulch, A. M. Mychajiw, C. Nowak, U. Ramakrishnan, J. Schnitzler, K. Das Shreshta, K. Solari, L. Stegner, M. A. Stegner, N. Chr. Stenseth, M. H. Wake, and Z. Zhang. 2017. Merging paleobiology with conservation biology to guide the future of terrestrial ecosystems. Science 335: DOI: 10.1126/science.aah4787.

Sharma, A., H. J. S. Fernando, J. J. Hellmann, M. Barrage, and F. Chen. 2017. Urban meteorological modeling using WRF: A sensitivity study. International Journal of Climatology 37: 1885-1900.

Chen, C., J. J. Hellmann, L. Berrang-Ford, I. Noble, and P. Regan. 2016. A global assessment of adaptation investment from the perspectives of equity and efficiency. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. In press. 

Urban, M. C., G. Bocedi, A. P. Hendry, J.-B. Mihoub, G. Pe’er, A. Singer, J. R. Bridle, L. G. Crozier, L. De Meester, W. Godsoe, A. Gonzalez, J. J. Hellmann, R. D. Holt, A. Huth, K. Johst, C. B. Krug, P. W. Leadley, S. C. F. Palmer, J. H. Pantel, A. Schmitz, P. A. Zollner, and J. M. J. Travis. 2016. Improving the forecast for biodiversity under climate change. Science 353: DOI: 10.1126/science.aad8466. 

Hellmann, J. J., R. Grundel, C. Hoving, an G. W. Schuurman. 2016. A call to insect scientists: challenges and opportunities of managing insect communities under came change. Current Opinion in Insect Science. In press.

Sharma, A., H. J. S. Fernando, J. J. Hellmann, M. Barrage, and F. Chen. 2016. Urban meteorological modeling using WRF: A sensitivity study. International Journal of Climatology. In press. 

Doherty, M., K. Klima, and J. J. Hellmann. 2016. Climate Change in the Urban Environment: Advancing, Measuring and Achieving Resiliency. Environmental Science and Policy. In press. 

Chen, C., M. Doherty, J. Coffee, T. Wong, and J. J. Hellmann. 2016. Measuring the adaptation gap: a framework for evaluating climate hazards and opportunities in urban areas. Environmental Science and Policy. In press. 

Sharma, A., P. Conroy, H. Fernando, A. Hamlet, J. Hellmann, and F. Chen. 2016. Green and cool roofs to mitigate urban heat island effects in Chicago metropolitan area: evaluation with a regional climate model. Environmental Research Letters 11: 064004. 

Hällfors, M. H., S. Aikio, S. Fronzek, J. J. Hellmann, T. Ryttäri, and R. K. Heikkinen. 2016. Assessing the need and potential of assisted migration using species distribution models. Biological Conservation 196: 60-68. 

Hällfors, M. H. J. Liao, J. D. K. Dzurisin, R. Gundel, M. Hyvärinenf, K. Towle, G. C. Wu, and J. J. Hellmann. 2016. Addressing potential local adaptation in species distribution models: implications for conservation under climate change. Ecological Applications 26: 1154-1169.

Beever, E. A., J. O’Leary, C. Mengelt, J. M. West, S. Julius, N. Green, D. Magness, L. Petes, B. Stein, A. B. Nicotra, J. J. Hellmann, A. L. Robertson, M. D. Staudinger, A. A. Rosenberg, E. Babij, J. Brennan, G. W. Schuurman, and G. E. Hoffmann. 2016. Improving conservation outcomes with a new paradigm for understanding species’ fundamental and realized adaptive capacity. Conservation Letters 9: 131-137.

Javeline, D., J. J. Hellmann, J. S. McLachlan, D. F. Sax, M. W. Schwartz, and R. Castro Cornejo. 2015. Expert opinion on extinction risk and climate change adaptation for biodiversity. Elementa 3: 000057.

Prior, K., T. H. Q. Powell, A. L. Joseph, and J. J. Hellmann. 2015. Insights from community ecology into the role of enemy release in causing invasion success: the importance of native enemy effects. Biological Invasions 17: 1283-1297.

Derby-Lewis, A., R. K. Mosely, K. R. Hall, and J. J. Hellmann. 2015. Conservation of urban biodiversity under climate change: climate-smart management for Chicago green spaces. Page 277-296 In Handbook of Climate Change Adaptation. Leal, W., ed. Springer, New York NY.

Conry, P., A. Sharma, M. J. Potosnak, L. S. Leo, E. Bensman, J. J. Hellmann, and H. J. S. Fernando. 2015. Chicago’s heat island and climate change: bridging the scales via dynamical downscaling. Journal of Applied Meterology and Climatology 54: 1430-1448. 

Personal profile

Jessica Hellmann is the director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. As director, she provides overall strategic leadership for the Institute, an internationally recognized organization working to solve grand environmental challenges, while promoting interdisciplinary research, teaching and leadership across the university and engaging external partners and stakeholders. She is also the Russell M. and Elizabeth M. Bennett Chair in Excellence in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior in the College of Biological Sciences.

Hellmann’s research focuses on global change ecology and climate adaptation. She was among the first to propose and study ways to reduce the impact of climate change through new techniques in conservation management. Hellmann led an important paradigm shift in ecology and natural resource management by showing that adaptation — living with climate change — is just as crucial to the future of humanity and Earth’s ecosystems as slowing and stopping greenhouse gas emissions. Her research and that of her students also has shown that differences in the way populations respond to climate change are key to predicting and managing their future.

Hellmann regularly counsels state and national governments on habitat management, restoration and endangered species conservation so future generations can enjoy the beauty and function of nature as we do today. In addition, building upon her seminal findings in ecology, Hellmann has extended her work on climate change adaptation to human systems, including health, infrastructure, food and water. She works with governments and corporations to build investment in climate change adaptation and co-authored several climate assessment and adaptation planning efforts, including the biodiversity and ecosystem portions of the Chicago Climate Action Plan and the 2014 National Climate Assessment. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Great Plains Institute, the Science Advisory Council of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, the External Advisory Board of the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainabilty and the Board of Trustees of the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Before coming to the University of Minnesota in 2015, Hellmann was on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame in the Department of Biological Sciences. She also served as research director of the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, which assesses and ranks the vulnerability of nations around the world to climate change and their readiness to adapt to climate change. She continues to collaborate with ND-GAIN as a core research member, mentoring several ND-GAIN researchers based at the University of Minnesota and elsewhere around the country. In addition, she led the climate change adaptation program at Notre Dame’sEnvironmental Change Initiative and directed GLOBES, an interdisciplinary graduate training program in environment and society, among numerous other high-level academic and scientific responsibilities. She also founded Notre Dame’s undergraduate minor in sustainability.

Hellmann earned her Ph.D. in biology from Stanford University and served as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Biodiversity Research. She is an alumna of Stanford’s Leopold Leadership Program and a recipient of a career enhancement fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. She became a member of the Notre Dame faculty in 2003.

Hellmann is a frequent contributor to leading scientific journals such as Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, BioScience and PLOS ONE. She serves on the editorial board of the journal Evolutionary Applications, is an associate editor with both Conservation Biology and Elementa, and serves on committees for the Ecological Society of America, the College Board and the National Academy of Sciences.

A skilled science communicator, Hellmann is routinely called upon by leading media outlets around the world such as CNN, NPR, Fox News, The Telegraph and the Chicago Tribune to provide expert input on topics related to global change and ways to minimize adverse impacts to people and nature.

Research interests

  • environment
  • conservation biology
  • climate change
  • natural resource management
  • biodiversity
  • climate change adaptation

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Research Output

Comparison of Human and Non-human Migration Governance Under Climate Change

Grecequet, M., Hellmann, J. J., DeWaard, J. & Li, Y., 2019, Transformative Climates and Accountable Governance. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, p. 195-221 27 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Five financial incentives to revive the Gulf of Mexico dead zone and Mississippi basin soils

Tallis, H., Polasky, S., Hellmann, J., Springer, N. P., Biske, R., DeGeus, D., Dell, R., Doane, M., Downes, L., Goldstein, J., Hodgman, T., Johnson, K., Luby, I., Pennington, D., Reuter, M., Segerson, K., Stark, I., Stark, J., Vollmer-Sanders, C. & Weaver, S. K., Mar 1 2019, In : Journal of Environmental Management. 233, p. 30-38 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Press / Media

    The Planet Is Probably in Worse Shape Than We Can Even Predict

    Jessica J Hellmann


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    On major Earth Day milestone, much of planet is on lockdown

    Jessica J Hellmann


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    Climate crisis takes the back burner in global pandemic

    Jessica J Hellmann


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    Some Midwest farmers see hope in Democrats' climate platforms

    Jessica J Hellmann


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Expert Comment