Susanna Hecht, professor of urban planning and director of the UCLA Center for Brazilian Studies, received the Stanley Brunn Award for Creativity in Geography from the American Association of Geographers in Denver on March 24. The award is given annually to an individual geographer or team that has demonstrated originality, creativity and significant intellectual breakthroughs in geography. Hecht, who also has an appointment at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, is one of the founding thinkers of political ecology. She has published research on anthropogenic soils, agroforestry and the land management practices of indigenous and Afrodescendant peoples in Brazil; how cattle farming, soy production and mining in the rainforest drive unsustainable land use, deforestation and climate change; and how forests have been shaped by human engagement throughout history. Hecht’s publications include “Fate of the Forest: Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon,” co-authored with Alexander Cockburn, and “Scramble for the Amazon and the Lost Paradise of Euclides da Cunha,” which won the Melville Prize for best book in Latin American environmental history, awarded by the Conference in Latin American History, in 2014. She also co-edited “The Social Life of Forests: The Past, Present and Futures of Wooded Landscapes.” Hecht has been actively involved in social movements in Amazonia, including the Forest Peoples Alliance in Brazil, and is a member of the Science Panel for the Amazon.
Read a Q&A with Hecht about the state of the Amazon rainforest on the UCLA Latin American Institute website.