Faculty Affiliates

Eric Sargis

Eric Sargis

Director, Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies

Professor of Anthropology, Archaeological Studies, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, and the Yale School of the Environment 

Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology and Vertebrate Zoology (Mammalogy), Yale Peabody Museum 

Research description: “I study the functional morphology and systematics of both living and extinct mammals. My research focuses on the biodiversity, morphological evolution, and paleobiology of several groups of mammals, including primates and treeshrews.”

Research keywords: Biodiversity, Evolution, Paleobiology

Carla Staver

Associate Director, Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies

Associate Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Research description: “I am interested in the ecology and ecosystem impacts of chronic disturbances (including fire and herbivory), especially at the interface of savannas and forests. I work mostly in African savannas but have global interests in fire- and herbivory-prone ecosystems.”

Research keyword: Ecosystem Ecology

Jay Ague

Henry Barnard Davis Memorial Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Curator-in-charge of Mineralogy and MeteoriticsYale Peabody Museum 

Research description: “Rock formation processes operating deep within active mountain belts produce and consume water, carbon dioxide, methane, sulfur compounds, and other chemical species of environmental significance. Our laboratory investigates the role that these processes play in global geochemical cycling and the long-term evolution of climate. Furthermore, we study how natural rock carbonation processes preserved in the geologic record may provide valuable analogs for the large-scale sequestration of anthropogenic carbon.”

Research keywords: Climate, Geochemical Cycling, Carbon Sequestration

Paul Anastas

Teresa and H. John Heinz III Professor in the Practice of Chemistry for the Environment, Yale School of the Environment and the Department of Chemistry

Research description: “Anastas’ research focuses on green chemistry and green engineering. The application of the principles of green chemistry to energy, materials, synthesis, and molecular design.”

Research keywords: Green Chemistry, Sustainability, Climate Change

Shimon Anisfeld

Shimon Anisfeld 

Senior Lecturer II and Research Scientist, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “My research examines how sea-level rise and other factors (large storms, nutrients, herbivores, sediment loading) affect the health of coastal salt marshes. I am also interested in understanding how we can better manage water in the face of climate change and other stressors (groundwater depletion, aging infrastructure, lack of WASH access, the decline of freshwater ecosystems, water conflict, etc.).” 

Research keywords: Coastal Wetlands, Water Management, Sea-Level Rise

Michelle Bell

Michelle Bell 

Mary E. Pinchot Professor of Environmental Health, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “Dr. Bell’s research examines how human health is affected by environmental conditions, including air pollution and weather. Other research interests include the health impacts of climate change and environmental justice. Much of this work is based in epidemiology, biostatistics, and environmental engineering. The research is designed to be policy-relevant and contribute to well-informed decision-making to better protect human health and benefit society.”

Research keywords: Public Health, Climate Change, Environmental Justice

Gaboury Benoit

Gaboury Benoit 

Grinstein - Class of 1954 Professor of Environmental Chemistry, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “My current research focuses on water quality in urban environments.  My main topics involve the environmental behavior of anthropogenic litter (especially plastics and microplastics), deicing salts, and green infrastructure.”

Research keywords: Plastics and Microplastics, Deicing Salts, Green Infrastructure

David Bercovici

Frederick William Beinecke Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Research description: “Mantle dynamics, plate tectonics, planetary physics, geophysical fluid dynamics, theoretical mineral physics, carbon capture/sequestration.”

Research keyword: Earth System Physics

Bhart-Anjan Bhullar

Associate Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Associate Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology and Vertebrate Zoology (Herpetology), Yale Peabody Museum

Research description: “My group focuses on great transitions in the history of vertebrates. In the field and in the lab, we use the geological record of life to guide questions about major transformations across Vertebrata, especially at the origins of extant radiations such as (but not limited to) birds, mammals, tetrapods, and gnathostomes. To address the nature and mechanism of pivotal events at crucial points in evolutionary history, we bring to bear a full range of modern biological and geological techniques, especially molecular developmental biology and functional biology, coupled with advanced three-dimensional imaging and geometric analysis. However, we maintain a surpassing commitment to the discovery of new fossils in the field; these will always be the inspiration, the grist, and the final validating test for work on the history of life.” 

Ruth E. Blake

Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Research description: “My research in experimental biogeochemistry, geomicrobiology and stable isotope geochemistry explores the co-evolution of Earth and life and paleoclimate using various chemical and stable isotope tools/ proxies. Research emphasizes the chemical and isotopic signatures of microbial metabolisms and processes in marine environments and their imprint on the rock record from deep-time to present.”

Research keywords: Biogeochemistry, Geomicrobiology, Paleoclimate

Mark Bradford

Professor, Soils and Ecosystem Ecology, Yale School of the Environment

Research description:”Bradford’s research group investigates how soil microbes, animals and their interactions with plants govern carbon cycle responses to global change and ecosystem management. Their current work spans questions that address uncertainties in Earth system feedbacks to quantifying soil and forest health. He is particularly interested in how organisms and their interactions affect decomposition processes, soil carbon and how changes in these variables affect ecosystem services, such as agricultural yields.”

Research keywords: Soil Carbon, Forests, Sustainable Agriculture

Paulo Brando

Paulo Brando 

Associate Professor of Ecosystem Carbon Capture, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “Research aimed at (1) identifying ecological thresholds beyond which global changes cause abrupt, prolonged degradation of terrestrial ecosystems by stressing, disturbing, and killing forests and (2) quantifying ecological & climatological boundaries for tropical agricultural expansion and intensification.”

Research keywords: Ecology, Conservation, Climate Change 

Richard Bribiescas

Richard Bribiescas

J. Clayton Stephenson/Class of 1954 Professor of Anthropology and of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Department of Anthropology 

Research description: “I’m interested in the evolution of human life histories, including aspects of reproduction, aging, and metabolism. My research entails the assessment of hormones and other biomarkers in non-industrialized societies as well as comparative species. I am currently engaged in research projects in Ecuador among Shuar communities, rural Poland, and Samoa.”

Research keywords: Human Evolution, Diversity, Life History Theory

Derek E.G. Briggs

G. Evelyn Hutchinson Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Curator-in-charge of Invertebrate Paleontology, Curator of Invertebrate Zoology, Yale Peabody Museum

YIBS Director from 2004-2008

Research description: “My research is on the preservation and evolutionary significance of exceptionally preserved fossil biotas. This involves a range of approaches from experimental work on the factors controlling decay and fossilization, through studies of early diagenetic mineralization and organic preservation, to field work on a range of extraordinary fossil occurrences and considerations of the ecology and relationships of the animals that they yield.”

Research keywords: Paleontology, Evolutionary Biology, History of Life

Craig Brodersen

Professor of Physiological Plant Ecology, Yale School of the Environment

Research description: “Our group studies the relationships between plant form and function, with a specific focus on photosynthesis and vascular transport. We use a combination of theoretical and empirical approaches, as well as the development of new instrumentation and software. We use these tools to explore plant performance both within an evolutionary context, but also in applied, agricultural settings.”

Research keywords: Plants, Photosynthesis, Drought

Indy Burke

Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. Dean, Yale School of the Environment 

Professor of Ecosystem Ecology, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “I am an ecosystem ecologist and biogeochemist, focusing on carbon and nitrogen cycling in dryland ecosystems. Most of my work focuses on changes in carbon and nitrogen cycling with land use management, climate change, across landscapes.”

Research keywords: Biogeochemistry, Ecosystem Conservation, Drylands

Adalgisa (GisellaCaccone

Senior Research Scientist and Lecturer, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Research description: “I am an evolutionary biologist interested in using genomic data to address issues in conservation and invasion biology. molecular ecology, and vector and parasites evolutionary genetics.”

Research keywords: Biodiversity, Public Health

Kai Chen

Kai Chen 

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology (Environmental Health), Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Yale School of Public Health

Deputy Faculty Director, Director of Research, Yale Center on Climate Change and Health

Research description: Dr. Chen’s research focuses on the intersection of climate change, air pollution, and human health. His work involves applying multidisciplinary approaches in climate and air pollution sciences, exposure assessment, and environmental epidemiology to investigate how climate change may impact human health.

Research keywords: Climate Change, Air Pollution, Public Health

Liza Comita

Professor of Tropical Forest Ecology, Yale School of the Environment 

Co-Director, Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture

Research description: “My research addresses both fundamental and applied questions in the field of plant community ecology, with an emphasis on understanding the drivers of biodiversity in both intact and human-altered forest ecosystems. Much of my research focuses on forest understory dynamics and species coexistence in tropical tree communities. In my lab, we use a variety of approaches to address our research questions, including long-term observational studies, field and greenhouse experiments, and computer simulations.”

Research keywords: Biodiversity, Community Ecology, Tropical Forests

Jennifer Coughlan

Jennifer Coughlan 

Assistant Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology  

Research description: “The Coughlan lab seeks to understand the process of speciation and adaptation by integrating field work, common garden experiments, development, and quantitative and population genomics. We focus on a wild flower genus, Mimulus.”

Research keywords: Speciation, Adaptation, Genomics

Aaron Dollar 

Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science & Computer ScienceSchool of Engineering & Applied Science 

Research description: “Prof. Dollar is a roboticist with interests in the ways that tools from a range of applied computing areas (e.g. machine learning, image and signal processing, sensing, and robotics) can be applied to a broad range of problems in Ecology, Environmental Science, and Evolutionary Biology. Prior and ongoing work has focused on functional morphology of hands and grasping (in humans, non-human primates, and birds), and current work focuses on use of drones for environmental monitoring as well as machine learning for automated classification of herbaria specimens.”

Research keywords: Biodiversity, Ecosystem Ecology, Functional Morphology

Michael Donoghue

Michael Donoghue

Sterling Professor Emeritus of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

YIBS Director from 2019-2021

Research description: “We study the phylogeny of plants to understand the evolution of their morphological characteristics, patterns of diversification, and historical biogeography. We are especially interested in how plants have moved around the globe in relation to past climate change.”

Research keywords: Plant Evolution, Biodiversity, Climate Change

Marlyse Duguid

Thomas J. Siccama Senior Lecturer in Field Ecology & Research Scientist, Yale School of the Environment 

Director of Research, Yale Forests

Research description: “I am an ecologist who studies patterns of biodiversity and the processes structuring plant communities, particularly in temperate ecosystems. My research addresses a range of theoretical and applied questions, with a focus on understanding plant community dynamics in human-modified landscapes.”

Research keywords: Biodiversity, Community Ecology, Restoration Ecology


Casey Dunn

Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Curator-in-charge of Invertebrate Zoology and Informatics, Yale Peabody Museum

Research description: “We study how evolution has produced a diversity of life. We are interested in learning about the actual history of life on Earth as well as the general properties of evolution that have contributed to these historical patterns. The type of questions we ask require field (marine), laboratory, and computational work.”

Research keywords: Biodiversity, Evolution, Marine Biology

Erika Edwards

Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Curator-in-charge of Botany and Paleobotany, Yale Peabody Museum

Director, Marsh Botanical Gardens

Research description: “My lab group studies the evolutionary origins of complex trait syndromes in plants. We tend to focus on traits that have played especially prominent roles in the adaptation of plant lineages to novel climates. Our approach requires a wide variety of biological sub-disciplines, including phylogenetics, physiology, anatomy, genomics, and field ecology, and we integrate these data types to produce a more complete picture of whole organism evolution.”

Research keywords: Evolution, Biodiversity, Botany

Menachem Elimelech

Sterling Professor of Chemical & Environmental EngineeringSchool of Engineering & Applied Science

Research description: “My research focuses on membrane-based technologies at the water-energy nexus, materials for next-generation desalination and water reuse membranes, and environmental applications of novel materials.”

Research keywords: Water-Energy Nexus, Water treatment, Desalination and Water Reuse

David Evans

Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Research description: “I’m interested in general evolution of planet Earth: particularly in its tectonic history of mobile continents and supercontinents (Pangea, Rodinia, Nuna, …), their relation to underlying mantle convection and core evolution, and their influence on long-term global climate and biology. My paleomagnetism laboratory measures magnetic directions preserved in ancient rocks to chart the motions of Earth’s tectonic plates, generating dynamic global paleogeographic atlases across billions of years.”

Research keywords: Tectonics, Paleogeography, Paleoclimate

Vanessa Ezenwa

Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Research description: “I study the ecology of infectious diseases with a specific focus on linking processes across scales. My lab investigates how behavioral, physiological, and ecological processes at the individual level shape interactions between hosts and their parasites and pathogens, and the consequences for population and community-wide patterns of disease. We combine field studies with laboratory approaches and theory to address fundamental questions about the ecology of infectious diseases in wild animal populations.”

Research keywords: Infectious Disease, Ecology, Behavior

Alexey Fedorov

Professor of Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Earth and Planetary Sciences

Eli Fenichel 

Knobloch Family Professor of Natural Resource Economics, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “I consider natural resource and ecological stocks as a form or capital (or liability). I work on a wide variety of systems including natural capital valuation theory and methods, fisheries, infectious disease, groundwater, forests, and invasive species.”

Research keywords: Natural Capital, Economic-Epidemiology, Couple Human-Natural Systems

Eduardo Fernández-Duque

Professor of Anthropology

Research description: “I am a biological anthropologist interested in understanding the evolution of social and mating systems. I study living primates as an approach to understanding the evolution of human behavior, particularly male-female relationships, pair bonding and fatherhood/paternal care. Given my work with monkeys in the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Argentinean Chaco I am also interested in the conservation of tropical and subtropical forests.”

Research keywords: Behavioral Ecology, Evolutionary Anthropology, Primates

Jacques Gauthier

Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Curator-in-charge of Vertebrate Paleontology, Curator of Vertebrate Zoology (Herpetology), Yale Peabody Museum 

Research description: “Phylogeny and evolution of Reptilia (including Aves). Comparative vertebrate anatomy. Influence of climate and geography on reptile evolution from mid-Mesozoic through Cenozoic.”

Research keywords: Morphology, Phylogeny, Evolution

Kenneth Gillingham 

Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Professor of Environmental & Energy Economics, Yale School of the Environment

Research description: “I am an energy and climate economist drawing upon multiple disciplines to answer policy-relevant questions relating to transportation, energy efficiency, innovation in new technologies, and broader climate policy. My work uses methods including statistical modeling, simulation modeling, and field experiments.”

Research keywords: Climate, Energy, Resources, Health

Nyeema Harris

Nyeema Harris

Knobloch Family Associate Professor of Wildlife and Land Conservation, Yale School of the Environment

Director, Applied Wildlife Ecology (AWE) Lab 

Research description: “In my Applied Wildlife Ecology (AWE) Lab, our work spans the globe, across scales and ecosystems from cities to protected areas to investigate carnivore ecology, behavior, conservation, and human-wildlife conflict. We aim to facilitate exposure, broaden participation in who has agency and contributes to knowledge production, and stimulate an awe for the natural world. Ultimately, we strive to do socially-relevant ecology by implementing inclusive scholarship that contributes to promoting wildlife persistence and coexistence.”

Research keywords: Wildlife Ecology, Biogeography, Conservation 

Pincelli Hull

Associate Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Associate Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology, Yale Peabody Museum

Research description: “My research focuses on understanding the causes and consequences of major environmental change in earth’s history and how these events relate to evolution of life and ecosystems. My work centers on reconstructing the history of the open oceans because of the relatively resolved environmental and biotic records provided by microfossils over the last ~150 million years. From these records, we reconstruct past climatic and oceanographic dynamics, the causes and consequences of mass extinctions, and the response of life to environmental change large and small.”

Research keywords: Paleontology, Mass Extinctions, Oceans and Climate

Walter Jetz

Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Forestry and Environmental Studies

Research description: “Research in my group addresses biodiversity dynamics in a changing world. We are particularly interested in the scale-dependence of both evidence and mechanism in biodiversity science and how environment, ecological, and macroevolutionary mechanisms combine to determine the co-occurrence of species and the structure of assemblages. We aim to use this as basis for assessing the fate of biodiversity and its functions under global change. We work with a variety of systems, both animals and plants, but have to date been particularly active addressing birds and terrestrial vertebrates.”

Research keywords: Biodiversity, Global Ecology, Global Change

Sara Kuebbing

Sara Kuebbing

Director of Research, Yale Applied Science Synthesis Program, The Forest School at the Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “I am trained as an ecologist with expertise in conservation biology, invasion biology, and plant community ecology. I conduct research on how humans can make informed decisions on how to best protect and conserve landscapes, ecosystems, and all the species that lives within them. I work with a variety of scientists, land managers, and policymakers to focus my research questions and share my results.”

Research keywords: Management, Biodiversity, Carbon 

Bill Lauenroth

Joseph F. Cullman 3rd ‘35 Professor, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “I study ecosystems in dry areas. My current research concentrates on questions associated with mixtures of grasses and shrubs or on ecosystems dominated by shrubs. My research interests include: plant population and community ecology; ecohydrology, ecosystem ecology, and the effects of projected climate change on plant communities and ecosystems. I use simulation modeling as a key exploratory and analysis tool across all of the organizational and spatial scales of my research. My current research is on big sagebrush plant communities and ecosystems in western North America.”

Research keywords: Big Sagebrush, Climate Change, Ecosystem Ecology

Xuhui Lee

Director, YIBS/Yale Center for Earth Observation

Sara Shallenberger Brown Professor of Meteorology, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “Professor Lee’s research and teaching concern the interactions between the terrestrial biosphere, the atmosphere and anthropogenic drivers. His areas of interest include boundary-layer meteorology, micrometeorological instrumentation, remote sensing, and carbon cycle science. His research methodology consists of field observations (eddy covariance, optical isotope instruments, and high-precision greenhouse gas analyzers), mathematical models (land surface models, large-eddy simulation, WRF, and earth system models), and environmental remote sensing (satellites and drones).”

Research keywords: Climate, Land Use, Remote Sensing

Sparkle Malone

Sparkle Malone 

Assistant Professor of Ecosystem Carbon Capture, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “My research evaluates how and why ecosystems are changing. I study ecosystem function across space and time to better understand ecosystem condition, sustainability, and vulnerability to extremes. This work lies at the intersection of ecology, remote sensing, and data science with the goal of understanding the processes that govern ecosystem health at large scales, so that we can predict the impacts of changes in climate, hydrology, and land management.”

Research keywords: Carbon, Ecosystems, Resilience

Jennifer Marlon

Jennifer Marlon 

Research Scientist and Lecturer, Yale School of the Environment and Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

Research description: “My research investigates wildfire-climate-ecosystem dynamics and human responses to extreme events (e.g., wildfire and drought). I use a variety of approaches, including experiments, surveys, data synthesis, and modeling.”

Research keywords: Climate Change, Paleoecology, Extreme Weather, Risk Perception

Martha Muñoz

Assistant Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Assistant Curator of Vertebrate Zoology (Herpetology), Yale Peabody Museum

Research description: “My lab focuses on the evolutionary physiology of reptiles and amphibians. Specifically, we study how these organisms interact with their thermal and hydric environments, and discover how those interactions structure evolutionary patterns of phenotypic and lineage diversity. Based on our discoveries, we infer how vulnerability to ongoing global change is spatially and phylogenetically structured to identify priorities for conservation.”

Research keywords: Biodiversity, Ecophysiology, Evolution

Thomas Near

Chair and Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Bingham Oceanographic Curator of Ichthyology, Yale Peabody Museum

Head of College, Saybrook College 

Brandon Ogbunu

Brandon Ogbunu

Assistant Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology 

Research description: “The Ogbunu Lab studies how complex interactions between genetic information, hosts, parasites, and environments craft disease phenomena. In doing so, his laboratory aims to reveal fragilities in disease systems that can be leveraged for health interventions and explore diseases as models for theoretical questions in evolution and ecology.”

Research keywords: Evolutionary Biology, Complex Systems, Epidemiology

Jeffrey Park

Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

YIBS Director from 2008-2011

Research description: “Theoretical and Observational Seismology. Plate Tectonics and Earth-System Science. Geological Time Series and Paleoclimate”

Research keywords: Earth Structure, Earth Dynamics, Earth-System Science

Jordan Peccia

Thomas E. Golden, Jr. Professor and Chair of Chemical & Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering & Applied Science

Research description: “Research in the Peccia lab integrates biotechnology, genetics and engineering to solve important environmental problems. Principle areas of research include human exposure to and health impacts from pathogenic and beneficial microbes in the indoor and outdoor environment, wastewater-based epidemiology, and biological control of global methane emission. Along with quantitative engineering-based fundamentals and tools, we have developed extensive molecular and computational biology skill sets and strategic collaborations in public health, epidemiology, and data sciences.”

Research keywords: Indoor Environment, Public Health, Climate Change

Virginia Pitzer

Virginia Pitzer

Associate Professor of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases), Yale School of Public Health 

Research description: “Dr. Virginia Pitzer’s research focuses on mathematical modeling of the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases, including rotavirus, typhoid fever, and RSV. Dr. Pitzer studies how interventions such as vaccination, improved treatment of cases, and improvements in sanitation affect disease transmission at the population level. Dr. Pitzer is also interested in methods for understanding associations between climate and infectious disease dynamics.”

Research keywords: Infectious Diseases, Epidemiology, Mathematical Modeling

Noah Planavsky

Associate Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Associate Curator of Mineralogy & Meteoritics, Yale Peabody Museum

Research description: “I am an isotope geochemist that works on environmental change in Earth’s past, present, and future. Current projects focus on changes in ocean oxygen levels, tracking how primary productivity has changed through time, and on the potential for carbon capture through enhanced mineral weathering in marine and terrestrial environments.”

Research keywords: Geochemistry, Geobiology, Carbon Capture

David Post

Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Research description: “I study complex food web structure and dynamics, interactions between ecology and evolution, conservation and management of aquatic resources, climate change, and the role of mobile consumers in linking ecosystems. I work primarily in aquatic systems, but I also study interactions and processes that link aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.”

Research keywords: Ecology, Evolution, Climate

Jeffrey Powell

Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, Yale School of the Environment and the School of Public Health

Research description: “Our research focuses on the genetics of mosquitoes and their evolutionary history. Our present work focuses on Aedes aegypti, the major vector of yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses.”

Research keywords: Evolutionary Genetics, Public Health, Mosquitoes

Richard Prum 

William Robertson Coe Professor of Ornithology, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Curator-in-charge of Vertebrate Zoology (Ornithology)Yale Peabody Museum 

Research description: “My recent research has focused on theoretical and molecular studies of the development and evolution of feathers, developing and applying new tools for the study of the physics and evolution of structural coloration, and continued efforts in phylogenetic ethology of polygynous birds (Link to Research page). I have conducted field work throughout the Neotropics and in Madagascar and have studied fossil theropods in China.”

Simon Queenborough

Simon Queenborough 

Musser Director, Yale Tropical Resources Institute 

Senior Lecturer & Research Scientist, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description:  “The sessile nature, modular construction, and evolutionary flexibility that plants exhibit lead to intriguing challenges in ‘thinking like a plant’. Such challenges include how over 600 species of tree can coexist within 1-ha of rain forest, how plants allocate limited resources to growth, defense, and reproduction, and how populations respond to biotic and abiotic factors. Using a range of techniques from greenhouse experiments, long-term censuses, literature and herbarium research, to large-scale data collection and cutting-edge statistical modelling, we address a variety of pure and applied questions that are ultimately concerned with how individuals, species, and communities (including humans) interact over both ecological and evolutionary time.” 

Research keywords: Community Ecology, Phenology, Reproduction, Tropical Forests 

Narasimha Rao

Narasimha Rao 

Associate Professor of Energy Systems, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “Dr. Rao’s research examines the relationship between energy, human development, and climate change. He studies equity dimensions of energy transitions and their development impacts in emerging economies. He has developed the idea of ‘decent living energy,’ the energy needs to support basic well-being in different societies.”

Research keywords: Energy, Inequality, Climate

Peter Raymond

Senior Associate Dean of Research and Director of Doctoral Studies, Oastler Professor of Biogeochemistry, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “Biogeochemistry of aquatic systems.”

Research keywords: Greenhouse Gases, Rivers, Carbon

Barbara Reck

Barbara Reck 

Senior Research Scientist, Center for Industrial Ecology, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “I study the sustainability of material use in society by evaluating the degree of their circularity and the implications for embodied carbon. This work is rooted in detailed material cycles that are the basis for material efficiency assessments and better decision making in material selection. The materials I study include metals, plastics, textiles, and biogenic building materials such as mass timber.”

Research keywords: Industrial Ecology, Sustainable Materials, Recycling

Alan Rooney

Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Research description: “I am interested in understanding the interactions between tectonics, the cryosphere, the evolution of complex life and geochemical cycles on a range of time scales. I use radiogenic isotope geochemistry combined with field-based mapping, sedimentology, stratigraphy and mineralogy to interrogate the rock record of critical transitions in Earth history.”

Research keywords: Geochemistry, Climate, Evolution

Holly Rushmeier

Holly Rushmeier 

John C. Malone Professor of Computer Science, Yale University 

Research description: “My research is in the development and application of methods for generating photorealistic computer graphics imagery. My group works on imaging for documentation and analysis of both cultural and natural heritage. We extract models of texture and geometry from images and use realistic synthetic images in machine learning for image interpretation.”

Research keywords: Image Analysis, Cultural Heritage, Natural Heritage 

James Saiers

James Saiers 

Clifton R. Musser Professor of Hydrology, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “Saiers studies how human activities affect the chemical composition of drinking-water resources and alter freshwater flows within aquifers, wetlands, and river basins. His recent research projects address water-quality impacts of fossil-fuel development, carbon and nutrient transport through watersheds, radionuclide migration in groundwater, and climate-change effects on water resources.”

Research keywords: Hydrology, Water Resources, Water Quality

Luke Sanford

Luke Sanford 

Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy and Governance, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “I study the political economy of environmental stewardship: how do citizens and politicians value the preservation or exploitation of natural resources, and how are those values converted into actions and policies? My research combines deep understanding of environmental processes and governance with methods from computer vision, spatial statistics, and natural language processing that facilitate use of satellite imagery and text for casual inference around these equations.” 

Research keywords: Environmental Politics, Political Economy, Remote Sensing 

Oswald (Os) Schmitz

Oastler Professor of Population and Community Ecology, Yale School of the Environment and the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

YIBS Director from 2011-2018

Research description: “My research aims to discern the rules of life governing how the varieties of carnivore, herbivore, and plant species thrive in and sustain the ecosystems they inhabit. These insights help to inform environmental stewardship to enhance the conservation of wildlife species in ways that ensure the sustainability of ecosystems, their functions, and the services that they provide to humankind.”

Research keywords: Biodiversity Conservation, Community Ecology, Ecosystem Functioning and Services

Karen Seto

Frederick C. Hixon Professor of Geography and Urbanization Science, Yale School of the Environment

Research description: “Professor Seto’s central research focus is how urbanization will affect the planet. A geographer by training, she integrates remote sensing, field interviews, and modeling methods to study urbanization and land change, future urban land expansion, and the environmental consequences of urbanization at scale. She has pioneered methods to reconstruct historical land-use and to develop empirical models to explain and forecast the expansion of urban areas. She has extensive fieldwork experience in Asia, especially China and India, where she has conducted research for over 20 and 10 years, respectively. Her research has generated new knowledge on the links between urbanization and food systems, the effects of urban expansion on biodiversity and cropland loss, urban energy use and emissions, and urban mitigation of climate change.”

Research keywords: Urbanization, Climate Change, Biodiversity

David Skelly

Frank R. Oastler Professor of Ecology, Yale School of the Environment

Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Director, Yale Peabody Museum 

Research description: “We study the mechanisms that underly distribution and abundance of organisms with a particular focus on the interaction between ecological and evolutionary mechanisms. Much of our work has been on amphibians including the ways in which human modified environments affect populations.”

Research keywords: Ecology and Evolution of Amphibians, Freshwater Ecosystems, Conservation Science

Eric Slessarev

Eric Slessarev

Assistant Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Research description: I study soil and its role in terrestrial ecosystems. My research is guided by two major objectives: (1) understanding how soil properties develop in different ecological contexts, and how they are expressed at the global scale; and (2) understanding how the soil environment governs belowground ecology and influences carbon and nutrient cycling. In addition to these fundamental research objectives, I evaluate soil-based climate change mitigation strategies. 

Research keywords: Terrestrial Biogeochemistry, Soil Science, Carbon and Nutrient Cycling.

Lidya Tarhan

Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences 

Assistant Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology, Yale Peabody Museum

Research description: “My group uses the sedimentary record to reconstruct ancient life and environments during key intervals in Earth’s history. In particular, we investigate the interplay between animals, microbial consortia and environments and the role of animals as environmental and ecosystem engineers—from minute to global scales—in both ancient and modern settings. We also study processes of fossilization and how preservational biases modify the stratigraphic record. Our research employs a sedimentological, paleontological, geochemical and experimental toolkit, combining field work, laboratory-based investigations and modeling.”

Research keywords: Organism-Environment Interactions, Bioturbation, Fossilization

Dorceta Taylor

Dorceta Taylor  

Senior Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Professor of Environmental Justice, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “I use frameworks of social inequality and justice to examine (a) food insecurity in several cities in the Midwest and New England; (b) lack of diversity in environmental organizations; (c) exposure to environmental hazards; and (d) access to and use of parks, forests, and other open spaces.  My research examines historical and contemporary forms of environmental inequalities through the lens of power, privilege, racism, and sexism.”

Research keywords: Food Insecurity, Institutional Diversity, Environmental Justice, Nature and the Outdoors

Jessica Thompson

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Assistant Curator of AnthropologyYale Peabody Museum

Research description: “Jessica Thompson specializes in human evolution, especially those aspects that can be revealed through the analysis of ancient animal bones found at archaeological sites (zooarchaeology). She leads the Malawi Ancient Lifeways and Peoples Project in Malawi, central Africa, where she has maintained a field site since 2009. This multidisciplinary work combines archaeological science, evolutionary theory, and hunter-gatherer ethnography to develop and interpret the first cultural and paleoenvironmental chronologies in the region that span the transition from the last Ice Age. Her other research, based on collaborative work in Ethiopia, targets the opposite end of the archaeological record, at its origin in the Pliocene. Thompson is PI of the Paleoarchaeology Laboratory at Yale University.”

Research keywords: Paleoclimate, Archaeology, Paleoanthropology

Mary-Louise Timmermans 

Damon Wells Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Research description: “Polar climate; physical oceanography of the Arctic Ocean”

Research keywords: Climate, Oceans, Cryosphere

Serena Tucci

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Research description: “The Tucci Lab addresses fundamental questions in human evolution and population history using DNA from present-day and ancient humans. We use an interdisciplinary approach that combines expertise from anthropology, population genetics, and computational biology, to reconstruct past demographic events and disentangle the genetic basis of human adaptation.”

Research keyword: Human Evolutionary Genomics

Paul Turner

Rachel Carson Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Research description: “Turner studies the biodiversity of microbes, especially the evolutionary genetics and genomics of viruses and their abilities to adapt (or not) to biotic and abiotic environmental changes. This research on the evolution of microbial biodiversity examines questions at many different levels: molecules, proteins, cells, populations, communities and ecosystems. Topic areas include: the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases; testing theoretical predictions of pathogen evolvability and emergence on novel hosts; and evolutionary medicine, especially the use of ‘evolution-thinking’ to better understand human illness and to discover novel disease treatments.”

Research keywords: Evolutionary Biology, Microbiology, Public Health

Anne Underhill

Professor of Anthropology

Curator of Anthropology, Yale Peabody Museum 

Research description: “Urbanization in late prehistoric China, change in craft production (ceramics, lithics), landscape analysis for investigation of ancient economic activities (including food resources).”

Research keywords: Archaeology of Late Prehistoric East Asia, Ethnoarchaeology, Human Use of Landscapes and Impact on Landscapes Over Time

Claudia Valeggia

Claudia Valeggia

Professor of Anthropology 

Research description: “My work is primarily concerned with the interactions between human reproductive biology and the ecological and cultural context in which it develops. My research program takes a biosocial and situated approach, that is, the interplay between biology, society, and culture takes a central role in interpreting lived experience of humans. Some of the topics I have explored are the correlates of the return to postpartum fecundity, the variation in reproductive hormonal levels within and between women in relation to environmental variables, growth and development patterns in infants and children, and variation in male and female life history in populations experiencing drastic lifestyle changes.”

Research keywords: Reproductive Ecology, Public Health, Latin American Indigenous Peoples

David Vasseur

Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Research description: “I am a theoretical ecologist addressing fundamental questions in community ecology by developing new mathematical theory, conducting simple lab-based experiments, and analyzing long-term data. The questions I address are motivated by a desire to mechanistically describe the processes underlying population and community dynamics in natural ecosystems.”

Research keywords: Theoretical Ecology, Community Ecology, Eco-evolutionary Dynamics

Madhusudhan Venkadesan

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, School of Engineering and Applied Science

Research description: “I study the mechanics and control of how animals move. Problems being pursued include locomotion in animals, the geometry of joints, the topology of shape-changing skins, and the rheology of muscle. Motivations and applications for my work include biomedical sciences, evolutionary biology, robotics, and plain curiosity about everyday observations.”

Research keywords: Biomechanics, Organismal Biology, Applied Mathematics

John Wargo

Chair, Yale College Environmental Studies Program

Tweedy Ordway Professor of Environmental Health and Politics, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “Professor Wargo’s research explores threats to human health posed by environmental hazards. He topics include exposures to pesticides, solvents, vehicle emissions, toxins in foods, plastics, flame-retardants, metals, and chemicals released outdoors and indoors. Current research examines environmental and health challenges associated with the global food system.”

Research keywords: Health, Environment, Children, Law

David Watts

David Watts 

Alison Richard Professor of Anthropology

Archaeological Studies, Cognitive Science, Council on African Studies

Research description: “I am a Biological Anthropologist specialized in the study of nonhuman primate social behavior and ecology.  I have been Co-Director of the Ngogo Chimpanzee Project in Kibale National Park, Uganda since 1995.  My research and that of students and colleagues focuses on chimpanzee social dynamics, feeding ecology, demography and life history strategies, hunting and meat eating, intergroup aggression, and a host of other topics.  Other of my students have studied the behavioral ecology, genetics, and conservation of colobine monkeys in Uganda, spider monkeys in Peru, and sifakas on Madagascar.”

Research keywords: Primates, Behavioral Ecology, Chimpanzees

Michelle Wong

Michelle Wong 

Assistant Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Research description: “I am interested in how plants and microbes interact with nutrient availability to shape terrestrial ecosystem responses to global change. More specifically, how do terrestrial ecosystems overcome nutrient limitation to facilitate carbon storage in plant biomass and soils, and how can our findings inform ecosystem management and restoration efforts?” 

Research keywords: Ecosystem Ecology, Biogeochemistry, Forests 

Jordan Wostbrock

Jordan Wostbrock 

Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Research description: “I am a stable isotope geochemist that uses the triple oxygen isotope composition of carbonates, silicates, phosphates, and water to look at marine and terrestrial environments. I am focused on paleoclimate/environmental reconstruction, understanding how alteration affects the oxygen isotope composition of carbonates and silicates, and the development of new methods and proxies.”

Research keywords: Paleoclimate, Geochemistry, Geobiology

Yuan Yao

Assistant Professor of Industrial Ecology and Sustainable Systems, Yale School of the Environment 

Research description: “Dr. Yuan Yao’s research investigates how emerging technologies and industrial development will affect the environment. She uses interdisciplinary approaches in industrial ecology, sustainable engineering, and machine learning to develop systems analysis tools to support engineering and policy decisions towards sustainability. She develops new methods and integrated modeling frameworks to assess, advance, and optimize industrial systems for improved environmental and societal outcomes.”

Research keywords: Industrial Ecology, Bioenergy, Decarbonization

Julie Zimmerman

Professor of Green Engineering, Yale School of the Environment 

Assistant Director for Research at Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering

Vice Provost for Yale Planetary Solutions

Research description: “The material basis of a sustainable society will depend on chemical products and processes that are designed following principles that make them conducive to life. Important inherent properties of molecules need to be considered from the earliest stage—the design stage—to address whether compounds and processes are depleting versus renewable, toxic versus benign, and persistent versus readily degradable. Products, feedstocks, and manufacturing processes will need to integrate the principles of green chemistry and green engineering under an expanded definition of performance that includes sustainability considerations. This transformation will require the best of the traditions of science and innovation coupled with new emerging systems thinking and systems design that begins at the molecular level and results in a positive impact on the global scale.”

Research keywords: Green Chemistry, Sustainability, Water Treatment