Professor Kristín Vala Ragnarsdóttir is a Professor of Sustainability Science at the Sæmundur frodi Institute for Sustainable Developmentand the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland. She was the Dean of Engineering and Natural Sciences at the University of Iceland from 2008-2012. Prior to moving to Iceland she was a Professor of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Bristol, UK. Educated in geochemistry at the University of Iceland, Reykjavík (BSc) and at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois (MS, PhD) she changed her focus a decade ago from Earth Sciences to cross-disciplinary Sustainability Science. From 2005-2008 she engaged with the citizens of Bristol in a series of Sustainability Café discussions to envision a sustainable city, and the outcomes of these conversations underpin many of the green actions in the city to this day. Her research pertains to sustainability in its widest context including nature protection, economics, society, and wellbeing of citizens. She is currently developing a framework for the establishment of sustainable communities within the Earth’s boundaries.
Vala is also working on soil sustainability indicators for land-management and undertaking a comparative study of the relative fertility of conventionally versus organically managed land to ensure future food security under the EU SoilTrEC project. Her activities also include the establishment of a framework for a sustainable financial system, link between natural resources and wealth and she is investigating the factors involved in complex multi-factoral disease development.
Vala was a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for Framework 7 Environment Programme from 2006-2008. She has been a member of grant research panels for the EC (Brussels), NERC (UK), NSF (USA) and ESA (Netherlands). Vala is a past Director of the Geochemical Society and was a member of the Board of the European Association for Geochemistry and the Geological Society of Great Britain. Vala is an associate editor of Solutions. She is also a past Associate Editor of Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta, Chemical Geology and Geochemical Transactions. She is currently a Guest Editor of a special issue of Solutions – entitled Solutions for Successful Societies. She was the chair of the Schumacher Society and is a current Vice President of the Balaton Group. She was invited to take part in a high level meeting at the United Nations in April 2012 on a new economic paradigm based on well-being and happiness at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Bhutan.
Vala is a Fellow of the Icelandic Academy of Sciences. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Schumacher Institute, Bristol and in 2011 she was awarded the Balaton Group Member of the Year award. She is a co-recipient of Times Higher Education Sustainability Award (2008) and the Plant (GAIA student association) Award. She is a Scientific Adviser to Health Empowerment Through Nutrition and an adviser to TreeSisters. In Iceland she advised widely on sustainability issues, including the Prime Minister, the Ministers of Education and the Environment, Parliament, the City of Reyjavík and the Federation of Icelandic Industries.
Soil science and health
University of Iceland