B.A. – Brown University
M.Sc. – New York University
Ph.D. - Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the New York Botanical Garden

Phone – 540-908-9040
Fax - 540-568-3333
Office - Bioscience 1016a

: Graduate Ecology Seminar (BIO 660)

Research Interests

My earlier research sought to understand the landscape patterns of tropical forest structure and species composition in western Amazonia – which can be explained by a complex interaction between soils, natural disturbance, and alternating dominance by distinct plant functional groups.  My more recent research has focused on the measurement of ecosystem services, and the use of those measurements to optimize the design of conservation strategies.  I now specialize in measuring how forests solve climate change.  As Director of Forest Carbon Science at The Nature Conservancy, my job is to 1) determine the extent to which forest conservation efforts mitigate climate change, and 2) help design forest conservation strategies that provide yet bigger solutions to climate change.  I also work with colleagues to integrate our forest carbon accounting with measures of other benefits forests provide for people.

Here are three examples: 

1)              We are measuring the CO2 benefits of low impact logging practices in Borneo, and we are re-designing low impact logging practices to achieve yet more carbon benefits. Low impact logging practices could cut carbon pollution in half while maintaining local jobs, maintaining Orangutan habitat, and improving water quality.  See this blog for more.

2)              We are measuring the extent to which community managed forests in Mexico are already providing CO2 benefits, and assessing how we can help these communities to provide even more.

3)              We are measuring the extent to which improved land tenure and law enforcement in the Brazilian Amazon reduces CO2 emissions from deforestation.  We are also exploring alternatives to cattle ranching, like cacao agroforestry, which can be more profitable yet store more carbon. See this blog for more.

The graduate ecology seminar course (Bio 660) I am teaching this semester at JMU is intended to introduce graduate students to the relationship between forests and climate change, and to develop a proposal for mitigating climate change through improved forest management here in Virginia.

The research described above is funded by The Nature Conservancy, The Government of Norway, USAID, Xerox Corporation, and other sources. 

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