University of Vermont

RSENR research

Rubenstein School Research Emphases

The Rubenstein School targets three areas of emphasis for scholarly pursuit: Applied Ecology; Environment and Society; and the Development and Use of Innovative Tools, such as spatial analysis, modeling, and mapping, to study the environment/human interface. Healthy and sustainable ecosystems, which in the School's definition include vibrant human communities, depend upon the integration of knowledge and skills developed in all three of these areas. The emphasis on integration contributes to the distinctiveness, quality, and growing national and international reputation of the School.

Applied Ecology

Forest Ecosystem Health

Graduate student conducting tree researchRubenstein School faculty, staff, and students study forest ecosystems and various impacts on their health. Studies include relationships of acid rain and nutrient depletion to decline in tree species' health and response to environmental stressors, ways to improve restoration of tree species and their habitats to northeastern forests, use of remote sensing for early detection of invasive insect and disease outbreaks, host tree genetics in plant-insect pest interactions, and potential biocontrol agents for invasive forest insects, among other topics. Researchers also study climate change impacts on forest ecosystems, carbon storage, and decomposition and how ecologically-based silvicultural systems, structure and function of old-growth and riparian forests, natural disturbance ecology, and restoration ecology impact forest biodiversity. Learn more >>

Wildlife and Landscape Change

Researcher holding birdRubenstein School faculty, staff, and students study how wildlife populations respond to landscape change. Our research involves a combination of field studies and modeling to describe populations of wildlife, such as bobolinks, bears, and bobcats, and explore the impacts of a variety of landscape changes such as those from climate change, energy generation, farming practices, and urban development. Our faculty includes members of the Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and many of our projects occur in collaboration with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. Learn more >>

Water Resources, Lake and Watershed Science

Faculty and graduate stduent conduct fish researchFaculty, staff, and students with expertise in aquatic ecology, lake studies, and fisheries biology are conducting research on a broad array of topics including food web dynamics and eutrophication in Lake Champlain, sources and control strategies for nonpoint source pollution in agricultural and developed watersheds, ecology of toxic cyanobacteria blooms, nonnative and invasive species impacts on aquatic ecosystems, fish population dynamics and restoration, and climate change impacts in arctic and local watersheds and potential adaptation strategies. State-of-the-art research laboratories in the Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory and the UVM research vessel Melosira on the Burlington waterfront support this work. Learn more >>

Ecological Design

Student conducting EcoMachine researchRubenstein School faculty, staff, and students design ecological systems that use ecological principles and natural organisms to treat wastes, manage storm water run-off, and restore damaged ecosystems. They study ways to promote sustainable community development and problem-solving through holistic landscape and building design and planning. Learn more >>

Environment and Society

Ecological Economics

Gund logoAt the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, faculty, staff, and students develop, test, and implement innovative methods and models that reflect the need to integrate the social, built, natural, and human capital components of our world. They research ways to shift the world's economies away from their present emphasis on infinite economic growth and toward a focus on sustainable human wellbeing. They forge fresh and visionary approaches to the economic challenges and opportunities that await us in the 21st century by bringing together experts, teachers, students, and stakeholders from many disciplines to pioneer vital, new developmental tools and ideas.

Environmental Policy and Thought

Student conducting surveyFaculty and students with expertise in environmental policy and thought pursue studies of causes and consequences of environmental conflicts and how ecological factors can promote peace; how cultural, religious, and gender identities emerge from and shape perceptions of the natural environment; environmental interpretation and education; and social justice and the legal aspects of environmentalism. Faculty and students are involved in projects that seek to identify how markets, policies, and practices related to climate change affect small-scale and community based forestry initatives. Research products will inform both community practitioners and policymakers seeking inclusive and equitable ways to engage communites and family forests in advancing their socioecological goals and addessing climate change.

Recreation and Tourism

Student conducting survey at national parkFaculty, staff, and students are involved in research, planning, and management applied to national parks, wilderness, other recreation areas, and natural resources and the sociology of recreation and leisure. Special focus is placed on outdoor recreation and related public uses of parks. The Park Studies Laboratory conducts a program of research in the U.S. national park system and also conducts studies applied to national forests, national wildlife refuges, state parks, nonprofit institutions, and related areas and organizations. Learn more >>

Watershed and Land Use Planning

Vermont landscape and lakeFaculty and students pursue a holistic approach to managing the working landscape, including the natural resources in those landscapes. This is an interdisciplinary research area that contributes to sustainable solutions to water quality management, conservation of natural habitats and their biodiversity, and livable human communities. Some examples include developing strategies for engaging communities and citizens in decision-making, exploring innovative land use policy options, food and agricultural systems analysis, and ecological planning.

Development and Use of Innovative Tools

Spatial Analysis and Modeling

Map of urban areaRubenstein School faculty, staff, and students develop and use innovative spatial analysis, modeling, and mapping tools as part of their research methods. In the Spatial Analysis Laboratory (SAL), in particular, researchers use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and related technology to quantify and evaluate ecological patterns, including wildlife habitat, landscape fragmentation, biological diversity, forest health, and invasive species. The SAL incorporates this information into conservation-planning efforts that help develop priorities for protecting landscapes and their natural resources. They use sophisticated computer models and historical data to develop alternative scenarios of policy strategies, infrastructure investments, and demographic and economic changes. They run cutting-edge urban simulation and transportation modeling software to visualize effects of these scenarios on development patterns, traffic, and other socioeconomic factors. Learn more >>

Last modified April 03 2014 11:19 AM