Gund Graduate Fellow, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources

Michelle is a PhD student in the Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at UVM. Her current research is focused on assessing the tradeoffs between meeting renewable energy needs through forest biomass, biodiversity, carbon storage, forest sustainability, and forest products.

Michelle is broadly interested in integrating ecological and social sciences to solve conservation problems. She has spent her professional career working for The Nature Conservancy, most recently leading a regional initiative to improve aquatic habitat and human community resilience to flooding through transportation infrastructure redesign. Michelle commutes to UVM from the Adirondacks where she gets her wilderness fix and grows garlic.

Dissertation: Effects of Forest Biomass Energy Production on Northern Forest Wildlife and Forest Sustainability

Research and/or Creative Works

  • Ausable watershed priority culvert upgrade projects. Brown (PI). National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resilience Competitive Grants Program. $620,000.
  • Building climate resilience in the Lake Champlain Basin: restoring freshwater connectivity through infrastructure redesign. Brown (PI). Wildlife Conservation Society, Climate Adaptation Fund. $225,000.
  • Climate vulnerability and economic assessment for at-risk transportation infrastructure in the Lake Champlain Basin, New York. Brown (Co-PI). Federal Highway Administration, Climate Adaptation Pilot Program. $223,000.
  • Effects of forest biomass energy production on northern forest wildlife and forest sustainability. Brown (PI – Ph.D. student). Northeastern States Research Cooperative, Theme 1. $129,810.
  • Predicting impacts of future human population growth on the landscape carrying capacity for forest-dependent species. Brown (PI – MS student). Northeastern States Research Cooperative Graduate Student Competition, Theme 4. $10,000.
  • Identification of biologically important barriers in the Hudson River Estuary. Brown (PI). New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission. $70,000.
  • Fish passage and connectivity in the Ausable Watershed using field assessment tools and GIS prioritization. Brown (Co-PI). Lake Champlain Basin Program. $46,000.
  • Evaluating a working forest: integrating monitoring of the former Finch, Pruyn lands. Brown (Co-PI). Northeastern States Research Cooperative, Theme 1. $128,855.
  • Incorporating freshwater biodiversity into New York State transportation planning. Brown (PI). New York State Wildlife Grants. $99,100.



  • Brown, M.L., T.M. Donovan, G.M. Warrington, W.S. Schwenk, and D.M. Theobald. Predicting effects of future human population growth and development on a territorial forest songbird: small declines in occupancy equate to large declines in landscape carrying capacity. Biological Conservation. In review.
  • Brown, M.L., T.M. Donovan, W.S. Schwenk, and D.M. Theobald. 2014. Predicting impacts of future human population growth and development on occupancy rates of forest-dependent birds. Biological Conservation. Available online:


Karieva, P, T.H. Tear, S. Solie, M.L. Brown, L. Sotomayor, and C. Yuan-Farrell (2005). Can NGO’s fill gaps in the Endangered Species Act? In D.D. Goble, J.M. Scott, and F.W. Davis, eds. The Endangered Species Act at 30: Renewing the Conservation Promise, Vol. 1. Island Press, Washington, D.C. 

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Biodiversity conservation, forest ecology and carbon dynamics, climate change mitigation and adaptation; ecosystem services



  • MS, Natural Resources, University of Vermont 
  • BS, Environmental Studies, Binghamton University