I'm an urban ecologist who studies the role of plants, trees, and soils in cities. I was trained as a physiological ecologist at what is now the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. I started out measuring forest drought responses and biometeorology in natural and plantation forests, and then studied the effects of climate change on ecosystems at the Desert Research Institute and the GCTE core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP).
In about 2000 I got interested in how urban plants influenced local climate, water resources, and greenhouse gas emissions from cities. I started measuring water, carbon, and nitrogen fluxes from urban landscapes (and still do), but I quickly learned that one of the most important roles of urban landscapes in cities is not their physical effects on the environment, but their physiological, social, and cultural interactions with people. Urban greenspace and people are closely connected, in ways we haven't always been able to easily measure. Nevertheless, to build thriving cities we need good information about exactly how and what kind of greenspace works for people and nature.
I started this blog as part of a Global Scholar award from the Fulbright Program, which is allowing me to travel to cities that are managing and expanding greenspace in hot and dry climates. My goal is to learn about how researchers around the world are studying interactions between people, urban greenspace, and the environment, and how that information is used in evidenced-based decision-making about the future of cities.
You can read my faculty page at the University of Utah with a full publication list here, and my essays at the Nature of Cities site here. If you need a reprint of one of my lab's publications (because it's behind a paywall), just send me a message. And let me know what you think about this blog - I look forward to good conversations with new and old friends.