My work focuses on the ways landscape composition influences environmental quality and habitat availability. Around Poughkeepsie and the Vassar Campus I have worked with students and colleagues to study how urbanization has changed habitat composition (especially for birds) and water quality in local streams. Much of my work has also explored how species distributions in the Sheyenne National Grasslands, in North Dakota, are influenced by extent and configuration of tree cover in the landscape. 

I teach courses in conservation, land use planning, GIS and cartography, and related aspects of environmental and physical geography. Most of my courses involve some components of GIS, environmental inquiry, and field experience (as much as possible). My courses have focused on topics such as historic landscapes and exploration, conservation history in the Adirondack Park, and the intersection of aesthetic landscapes and environmental planning on the Vassar Campus.

In addition to research and teaching, I am coauthor on two textbooks in environmental science: Environmental Science: a Global Concern, and Principles of Environmental Science. Our aim with these books are to give students access to ideas about how science is used to examine and ideally to resolve environmental problems, as well as how human, cultural, and political factors give nuance to environmental issues and solutions. Ideas from these books are informed by, and used in, all of my teaching and research activities. 

(photo at top: sand dunes of the Sheyenne National Grassland, ND: Tom Finkle photographer)
View of Lake Placid from Whiteface Mountain


In addition to conservation, environmental science, and maps, I have spent a lot of effort recently on issues of climate change and sustainability, as well as planning and energy-related issues that bear on climate policy. 

I have been working with the College Committee on Sustainability (CCS: updated site, or official site) on a variety of projects related to efficiency, climate change, and other aspects of sustainability, and I am currently coordinator of the Environmental Research Institute (ERI, link for Vassar users). The Earth Science and Geography Department is here. I am also involved in the Environmental Studies program. For more on what is happening in these areas, see Projects tab.

When I can, I like to take vacations in interesting landscapes and environments...
Thingvellir, summer 2014