YIBS Centers & Programs

YIBS provides funding support for Yale faculty and researchers to launch and operate interdisciplinary research centers or programs centered around environmental and earth science topics. Calls for proposals for new centers and programs are opened periodically, and will be announced here.

Our five current YIBS centers and programs are previewed below, with full descriptions available here.

Yale Center for Earth Observation (YCEO)

At the Yale Center for Earth Observation, students and researchers learn to draw information from satellite imagery. Read more…

Program in Spatial Biodiversity Science & Conservation

The Program in Spatial Biodiversity Science and Conservation provides students and researchers with access to software and skills training for big data processing. Read more…

Center for Genetic Analyses of Biodiversity (CGAB)

The Center for Genetic Analyses of Biodiversity provides service and training in genetic analyses—fostering biodiversity research at Yale. Read more…

Program in Eco-Evolutionary Interactions

YIBS’ Program in Eco-Evolutionary Interactions works to produce new science based on the dynamic feedbacks between evolution and ecological processes. Read more…

Yale Analytical & Stable Isotopic Center (YASIC)


At the Yale Analytical and Stable Isotope Center, users learn environmental sample preparation and analysis techniques associated with light stable isotope, elemental, nutrient, or complex compound composition studies. Read more…

Program on the Evolution of Flower Form and Function (EF3)


YIBS’ new Program on the Evolution of Flower Form and Function (EF3) brings together diverse scientific disciplines to address the evolution of one of the most innovative and transformative structures on the planet: flowers. Read more…

Yale Center for Earth Observation

Cloud wakes and hemlock tree health, oil spill reach, snow and ice retreat are all calculated at the Yale Center for Earth Observation (YCEO). Researchers use many dozens of indices to organize earth data taken from space to identify these highly specific landscape traits.

YCEO teaches students and researchers to use satellite images to access the large amounts of data collected about earth from space. Founded in 1992, the center provides workstations from which researchers can access and use this information.

Since the 1970s, the use of satellites to collect information about the surface of the earth has grown enormously, both in data quantity and quality. So much information is available, researchers call it a “data deluge.” At YCEO students and researchers pass this data through quantitative sieves to identify historical, current, and future conditions at Earth’s surface.

Teaching at YCEO takes place via courses and workshops. In particular a foundational course for students of all levels, Observing Earth From Space, takes place every spring. Observing Earth From Space launches students into their own research by the end of the semester. Projects produced in this class range from evaluations of management strategies to land productivity and land use change all over the world. Hundreds of students have learned satellite imagery manipulation at YCEO.

The Yale Center for Earth Observation is located in the Class of 1954 Environmental Science Center on Sachem Street. Visit YCEO’s website here.

Center for Genetic Analyses of Biodiversity

Materials, from feathers and animal hides to blood and guano, yield complex, data-driven stories about species spread and evolution. At the Center for Genetic Analyses of Biodiversity (CGAB), DNA-based analysis makes this information available to researchers.

DNA analyses at CGAB apply a variety of genetic and genomic analytical methods, from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequencing and Fragment Analysis of microsatellite markers to Next Generation Sequencing. CGAB hosts projects from disciplines across Yale on species extinct and extant, from protozoa to giant tortoises. The discoveries made in the center’s molecular laboratory inform work in the fields of systematics, evolutionary biology, ecology, paleontology, invasion and conservation biology, and epidemiology. They provide genetic, geographic, and often historical answers to biological questions. Researchers have explored subjects as wide-ranging as vocal learning in birds, climatic influence on genetics, the geographic origins of invasive species, genetic diversity in endangered species, and the evolution of disease-spreading parasites.

One-on-one training and annual workshops teach students how to select and use genetic markers and analytical tools. Students participate in faculty-sponsored projects or conduct their own. Over two decades, the Center for Genetic Analyses of Biodiversity has trained more than two hundred researchers, from high school students to post-doctorates.

Current research at CGAB includes the tracing of evolutionary histories and population dynamics of endangered species, invasive species, and disease vectors—essential subjects for conservation and global stewardship. CGAB applies molecular tools in an evolutionary context, exploring biodiversity and seeking answers for pressing twenty-first century problems.

The Center for Genetic Analyses of Biodiversity is located within the Environmental Science Center on Sachem Street. Visit CGAB’s website here.

Yale Analytical and Stable Isotope Center

YASIC offers a number of isotope ratio mass spectrometers designated for determination of stable isotope ratios of H, C, N, O, and S in gaseous, liquid or solid samples. Some research examples include studies on paleo-climate, dinosaur body temperature, ecology and evolution of ocean ecosystems, carbon cycling in aquatic systems, complex food web structure and dynamics, isotopic tracers, and phosphorous cycling in the ocean.

Most cations of the periodic table can be analyzed by inductively coupled plasma optical emission or mass spectrometry (ICP-OES or ICP-MS). Coupling liquid chromatography with ICP-MS allows speciation analysis.

Anions in water samples are investigated using ion chromatography. Dissolved organic and/or inorganic carbon analyses are easily measured with a Total Organic Carbon analyzer. Nutrients in natural waters or soil extracts are determined using segmented flow analysis with established methods for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, total nitrogen, orthophosphate, total phosphorous, and silicate investigations.

Sample gas composition is determined using customized gas chromatograph with simultaneous measurements of carbon dioxide, methane, ethane, propane and nitrous oxides from a single aliquot. Mercury measurements in solid and liquid samples are easily done on Direct Mercury Analyzer. Radionuclide studies of environmental samples are done using Gamma Counter.

The center’s capabilities aid research on impact of fracking on groundwater quality; salt marsh accretion rates; sediment fingerprinting; large-scale watershed studies and much more. Visit YASIC’s website here.

Program in Spatial Biodiversity Science & Conservation

Water-laden to dry, elevated to depressed, environmental gradients span the world. The Program in Spatial Biodiversity and Conservation in Science applies informatics to process and present that spatial information, engaging the relationships between biology and land—both as they exist, and as they could exist.

The Program provides access to and interpretation of big data for researchers at Yale. This data comes from hundreds of international datasets but it takes the combination of software and skilled research to fit information parcels together. To that end, the program supports relevant research, provides access to software, and hosts big data workshops and lectures. Workshop subjects range from how to use free and open source software to remote sensing for disease vector transport. Current work at the Program for Spatial Biodiversity Science and Conservation includes the Map of Life project, which has compiled 36,000 species range maps, as well as the construction of high-resolution map layers for biodiversity modeling.

Using big data allows researcher to test new hypotheses—and identify new questions. These increasingly address the effects of global environmental change. Spatial relationships, like those between species and the lands that comprise their ranges, are under pressure. In what directions does change occur? What exists now must be mapped in order to predict the future.

The Program in Spatial Biodiversity Science and Conservation is located in the Osborn Memorial Lab on Sachem Street. Visit the program’s website here.

Program in Eco-Evolutionary Interactions

The Program in Eco-Evolutionary Interactions provides a place where three scientific pathways can inform and inspire each other. Together, they can more precisely approach the dynamics of community ecology. 

Between monitoring fish within a lake, e. coli in a dish, and composing functions that pin these acts to arcs and numbers, ecology at Yale applies three different research methods. Observation, experiment, and theory. Where observational ecology records the natural world, experimental ecology tracks events in controlled environments, and theoretical ecology defines the relationships between agents and events of both. Evolution acts—swiftly—within the scope of all three.

New research shows that evolution takes place within the same timescales as predation and procreation. It and these ecological processes interact. Animals adapt to the changes they cause in their own environment. The Post, Vasseur, and Turner labs are working together to understand these feedbacks and apply them to new research.

The Program provides an experimental testbed from which to explore and push these relationships. Its researchers will work to identify the mechanisms by which these feedbacks occur, observe the processes across the landscape, and bring that field work perspective back to the lab. Brought together by a shared post-doctoral researcher and structured communication, the labs hope to generate new questions and theories in all three fields.

The Program in Eco-Evolutionary Interactions allows Yale to explore the relationships between evolution and ecology, pursuing a better understanding of how ecosystems may respond to global environmental change. Visit the program’s website here.