Given the most recent climate change projections predicting a temperature increase of 1.5C with wetter and more intense rainfalls, the risks and exposure to stormwater related flooding and pollution will likely increase. While constructing pipes, reservoirs and other forms of grey infrastructure will be required, this option is not feasible for denser, urban communities.
My project, The Making of a Pandemic: Plague, Environment, and the End of Antiquity, examines the outbreak of the first great socio-ecological disaster in recorded human history: the first plague pandemic, commonly known as the Justinianic Plague (c. 541-750 CE). This plague occurred during a pivotal period in world history, which witnessed the fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam, and the transformation of political, religious, economic, and cultural life.
The role of green infrastructure in regulating and modulating the effects of infectious disease is a commonly overlooked, but critical component of ecosystem services. In a time of rapidly increasing human-mediated changes to the environment, understanding the ramifications of habitat fragmentation, human disturbance, urbanization, and climate change on pathogen transmission is critical.
My SESYNC project proposal focuses on understanding gaps between ecological and socio-economic goals of conservation and current terrestrial protected areas. I will identify quantifiable metrics based on goals used in the conservation planning research literature. These goal-based metrics, ranging from ecological (e.g. endemic species, rare habitats) to socio-economic (e.g. human population density, agricultural expansion) will be a common thread through all stages of the project.
Waste produced by the food production, transport, and consumption process is a global problem. It is critical to quantify food waste and its environmental impacts throughout the food supply chain and across spatial scales, so that policymakers can determine how to prioritize reduction efforts.
My research project, Rugged Resilience, investigates the Late Roman cities in the Eastern Mediterranean during Late Antiquity (c. 400-700 CE). Over this period, which included the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of Islam, the region saw major societal transformations in politics, culture, economics, and religion which coincided with increasing environmental stress in the form of climate change and natural hazards such as earthquakes and epidemics.
To sustain biodiversity and ecosystem services in Earth’s future ecosystems, many species must track suitable climate with range shifts. Interactions among species within their shifting ranges will affect whether and how species keep pace with climate change. This poses a challenge for ecologists to predict the nature and outcome of changing species interactions and for managers to sustain species interactions necessary for range shifts.
Human transformation of Earth’s land surface to meet the requirements for food, water, and shelter has a profound impact on hydrological processes and ecological health. Climate change, with increases in precipitation and runoff, can exacerbate the water quality/quantity problem. Strategized landcover planning and allocation of natural infrastructures may alleviate the combined impacts of climate change, population growth, and economic development.
Determining the existence and nature of regime shifts in socio-environmental systems is key to anticipating their dynamics. However, such transitions are difficult to study, among other reasons, because environmental responses tend to be slow and lagged, and monitoring data rarely capture multiple transitions.
Urban green spaces such as parks, gardens, and even vacant lots can provide many benefits for city dwellers, including clean air and water, reduced flooding, and habitat for plants, birds, and pollinators. They can also provide people with other, less tangible benefits, such as aesthetic beauty, recreation, and appreciation of nature, collectively known as cultural ecosystem services.