President, Emeritus and Bing Professor of Environmental Science, Stanford University 

Donald Kennedy is the Bing Professor of Environmental Science and President emeritus at Stanford University. He received AB and Ph.D. degrees in biology from Harvard. His research interests were originally in animal behavior and neurobiology – in particular, the mechanisms by which animals generate and control patterned motor output. His research group explored the relationship between central “commands” and sensory feedback in the control of locomotion, escape, and other behaviors in invertebrates. Among the issues considered were: How environmental variables that could not be “anticipated” by the animal’s genetic endowment could be compensated in fixed behavioral patterns and whether certain circuit arrangements for a given class of motor output were favored in different evolutionary outcomes.

In 1977 Dr. Kennedy took a 2 1/2 year leave to serve as Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This followed an increasing academic interest in regulatory policy regarding health and the environment, which included the chairmanship of a National Academy of Sciences study on alternatives to pesticide use and membership on the World Food and Nutrition Study. Following his return to Stanford in 1979, Dr. Kennedy served for a year as Provost and for twelve years as President, a time marked by renewed attention to undergraduate education and student commitment to public service, and successful completion of the largest capital campaign in the history of higher education. During that time Kennedy continued to work on health and environmental policy issues, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Health Effects Institute (a non-profit organization devoted to mobile source emissions), Clean Sites, Inc. (a similar organization devoted to toxic waste cleanup), and the California Nature Conservancy.

His present research program, conducted partially through the institute for International Studies, consists of interdisciplinary studies on the development of policies regarding such trans-boundary environmental problems as: major land-use changes; economically-driven alterations in agricultural practice; global climate change; and the development of regulatory policies. He co-directs the Environmental Studies Program in the Institute for International Studies, and oversaw the introduction of the environmental policy quarter at Stanford’s center in Washington, DC in 1993.

Dr. Kennedy is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He holds honorary doctorates from several colleges and universities. He served on the National Commission for Public Service and the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology and Government.