Research in ENVS

The Department of Environmental Sciences encourages and supports student research. Undergraduate students may begin exploring research as early as their first year with faculty in the department. Resources to support undergraduate research are available through departmental funding.  

Our thesis-based master’s program in ENVS requires students work directly with their ENVS advisor to produce an original research project. Prospective students in the MS/ENVS program are required to identify faculty who have similar research interests when applying.

Professor Berry Brosi

Lab website


Research statement: We study how the structure of biological communities—including both biodiversity and ecological network structure—affects ecological functioning, and how it is affected by environmental change.

Much of our work uses plant-pollinator interactions as a model system.

We are actively engaged in translating our work and synthesizing other science in the service of environmental policy and management.

Professor Emily Burchfield

Lab Website


Research Statement: My research integrates social and environmental data to understand the distributional consequences of changing climate on humans and the environment.  I rely heavily on geospatial programming and analysis, but also integrate survey and qualitative data in my research.  I am interested in methodological approaches that merge “big” spatiotemporal data with “deep” qualitative data to understand and support socio-environmental sustainability.

Professor Shaunna Donaher

Research statement: We study the atmospheric boundary layer using observational data to determine how contact with the ground influences atmospheric processes. This includes wind shear, turbulence, vertical mixing, and rapid heating or cooling. Using real-time and archived data we can understand the impacts of weather events on our local community and look at long-term trends of these impacts.

Professor Thomas Gillespie

Lab website

Google scholar

Research statement: We examine interactions among anthropogenic environmental change; biodiversity; and the ecology and emergence of pathogens in wildlife, domestic animals, and people using diverse pathogen study systems (eukaryotic parasites, bacteria, and viruses) in Sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, and Latin America. This work contributes simultaneously to our understanding of two key issues:

  • Ecology and Epidemiology of Emerging Wildlife-Borne Diseases in the Tropics
  • Pathogen Introduction as a Threat to Endangered Primates

Professor Lance Gunderson

Google scholar

Research statement: My ongoing research interests are in two major categories: 1) understanding how ecosystem processes and structures interact across space and time scales and 2) how scientific understanding influences resource policy and management. My interests are in the human and institutional dimensions to resource ecology.

Professor Carrie Keogh

Research Statement: My research interests are in disease ecology, marine ecology, and invasive species ecology. I’m broadly interested in how environmental change affects species interactions, and how trade-offs constrain adaptation to changing conditions. Interactions between parasites and hosts have been a focus of my work, and I use examples from parasite ecology to illustrate a broad range of ecological concepts in my teaching.

Professor Uriel Kitron

Google Scholar

Pub Med

Research statement:  My research and teaching interests center around the eco-epidemiology of infectious diseases, particularly those carried by insects and ticks (vector-borne), and the zoonoses (diseases that are common to humans and other animals). Many emerging and tropical diseases belong to these groups. For diseases such as Malaria, Dengue, West Nile Fever, Lyme disease and Chagas disease my group studies the ecology of the arthropod vectors and the mammalian reservoir hosts incorporating a strong field component (trapping mammals, collecting insects, identifying environmental features), as well as laboratory work.

In my laboratory we apply tools such as geographic information systems and remote sensing to gather and manage environmental data that can explain the spatial distribution of disease and vectors, and assess risk of transmission. Following quantitative spatial analysis and mathematical modeling, maps can then be produced to target further research efforts, as well as in support of surveillance and control efforts by public health agencies.

Teaching interests include epidemiology of infectious diseases, spatial epidemiology and ecological parasitology. Because of the applied nature of some of my research, I am also interested in the transmitting of scientific information.

Professor Anthony Martin

Google Scholar

Research statement: My main research interest is ichnology, the study of plant and animal traces, such as tracks, trails, burrows, nests, and feces. I generate research questions such as: How does an organism’s body reflect its potential behavior, versus behaviors implied by its traces? Or, how do traces show behaviors similar to or differing from the few times we might directly observe an organism’s behavior?

Although I am mostly a paleontologist and geologist by training, I also study modern traces. This means using a comparative approach that looks at how traces are made and how they get preserved in the fossil record, and then developing hypotheses about how ancient organisms behaved in their environments. Because of my eclectic approach, I normally do a wide variety of geological and ecological field work, but I also enjoy studying museum specimens of trace fossils.

Professor Eri Saikawa

Lab website

Google Scholar

Research statement: I conduct interdisciplinary research on the environment. I have worked on diverse projects that cover: 1) atmospheric chemistry (modeling aerosols and tropospheric ozone); 2) environmental health (assessing the adverse health impacts of air pollution); 3) biogeochemistry (modeling global soil nitrous oxide emissions); 4) climate science (estimating emissions of non-CO2 greenhouse gases), and 5) environmental policy/politics (analyzing the impacts of environmental standards and trade as well as analyzing policymaking processes).

My main research questions are related to the source and the magnitude of emissions linked to air pollution, ozone depletion and global warming, as well as the impacts of these emissions on humans and on the society. I am also interested in what policy measures are available to reduce these emissions, and how politics play a role in policymaking process.

Professor John Wegner

Research Statement:

  • Green building design--especially using the US Green Building Council's LEED(TM) rating system
  • Urban forest ecology
  • Aquatic ecology
  • Effects of habitat fragmentation on the abundance and distribution of animals

Professor Gonzalo Vazquez-Prokopec

Lab website


Research statement: Primary research areas at the ProkopecLab are disease ecology, spatial and landscape epidemiology and global health. We aim to understand the mechanisms and processes driving the spatial dynamics of vector-borne and parasitic diseases. We study the biology and ecology of insect vectors and reservoir hosts and the relationships between vector/human behavior and pathogen transmission. We integrate data derived from field observational or experimental studies with spatially explicit statistical and mechanistic models of pathogen transmission.

Professor Tracy Yandle

Lab website

Research statement: I am interested in individuals and their interactions with institutions used to solve natural resource and environmental management problems.  From a theoretical perspective, I focus on the interaction of property rights and governance arrangements as I seek to understand how we can use policy interventions to change individuals’ incentives and thus their behavior.  In this effort I am working to build both our scholarly understanding of human behavior and improve natural resource management policy.