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.

Learning Hub

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 Values

The following core values guide our work and mission:

Collaboration. We believe collaboration is necessary to understand the complexity of today’s environmental challenges and to seek solutions that will meet the needs of humans and nature.

Inclusivity and Fairness. We believe science must be inclusive and fair, supporting the full diversity of people and ideas that are critical to the integrity and progress of the institution. Learn more about our commitment to inclusivity.

Transparency. We believe science must operate in a transparent way, making data and knowledge accessible and free both within the scientific community and to the greater public. Cultivating an open culture in science is important not just for advancing scientific knowledge but also for fostering public trust in it.

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.