About Us

The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS)


NCEAS conducts transformational science focused on informing solutions that will allow people and nature to thrive.

We are an independent research affiliate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a global network and impact.

Our Mission

We work to accelerate scientific discoveries that will enhance our understanding of the world and benefit people and nature, as well as to transform the scientific culture to be more open, efficient, and collaborative. We do this by

  • Enabling collaborations between the brightest minds in the environmental sciences
  • Conducting breakthrough science that is grounded in big-picture thinking
  • Improving analyses through computing innovations that increase the (re)usability of data
  • Partnering with agencies and organizations that can help put the science to action
  • Training and inspiring generations of scientists to practice synthesis and open science

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Our Work


We conduct and enable solutions-oriented science.

Environmental Data Science

We advance open science to improve research efficiency.


We build capacity in synthesis and data science.

Read our annual reports, which summarize our work over the past 20+ years.

Our Approach

Synthesis Science. We don’t collect new data, but discover new insights from existing data, thereby generating big-picture knowledge and solutions. 

Team Science. We enable productive scientific collaborations, recognizing that environmental challenges are complex and their solutions require diverse perspectives and sets of expertise. 

Open Science. Data transparency and reproducibility are essential to the utility of the environmental sciences, and we work to advance scientific culture in the direction of open science.

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Our History and Impact

Established in 1995, NCEAS was the first synthesis science center in the world. We pioneered the movement toward this collaborative approach to science and have helped build a community of scientists around it.

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Why the butterfly?

The butterfly in our logo alludes to the Lorenz attractor, a butterfly pattern created by the computation of mathematical equations that are part of chaos theory. It visualizes the idea that small changes can have widely differing and sometimes big outcomes, an idea applicable to the study of nature.

Our logo also pays homage to the iconic Monarch butterfly, populations of which overwinter in our home, Santa Barbara, California.