Graduate Faculty Research Interests
MS in Environmental Science
Visit the MS in Environmental Science program page for more information about how to apply, curriculum, and outcomes.
Environmental Studies and Science Department Chair
E. Melanie DuPuis’ research focuses on environmental policy and sustainable governance, with an emphasis on food and agriculture. Her most recent work explores the relationships between diet, democracy, freedom and sustainable social change.
MS in Environmental Science Director
Matthew Aiello-Lammens studies factors influencing changes to species ranges, the likely causes of population declines and explosions, and the interconnectedness among species that results in the ecosystems we observe, near and far. He is currently working on several projects addressing questions related to community ecology, species demography, and conservation science, spanning different regions in the world from the northeastern United States to South Africa.
Michael Finewood is a human geographer and political ecologist with research interests in environmental governance, water, and urban sustainability, with explicit attention to critical geographies and justice. Over his career, Dr. Finewood’s interests have focused on environmental perception, expertise, and decision-making, with a concentration on water and society. He has conducted research on the social and ecological impacts of coastal development, resource extraction, urban farming, and urban stormwater governance. His current project explores the challenges of water governance across the politically and ecologically fragmented Bronx River watershed.
Michelle Land’s expertise spans environmental law and policy, wildlife biology, interdisciplinary education, and campus sustainability. Currently, Michelle Land’s areas of research interest include the intersection of animal welfare and conservation policy, the welfare of large range animals in circuses, and local and statewide policies for animal protection.
Monica Palta is an urban wetland ecologist. She has studied wetlands and watersheds throughout the U.S., examining ecological and anthropogenic processes that mediate the sources and fate of nutrients and greenhouse gases. Dr. Palta's research examines the interface between wetland ecosystems and people. Her recent research has focused on wetlands created "accidentally" in urban areas by municipal storm water outfalls and the types of ecosystem services they provide, particularly to low-income populations and to people experiencing homelessness. These services can include nutrient and pathogen removal, mitigation of urban heat, and a place of refuge for vulnerable people.
Mike Rubbo is a conservation biologist who specializes in the ecology of suburban ecosystems. Over the past decade, Mike has worked with non-profit conservation organizations throughout the Hudson Valley both as a researcher and educator. His recent work has addressed a variety of issues including human-wildlife conflicts, disease ecology, and the adaptions of local wildlife to land development.
Anne Toomey is an interdisciplinary conservation scientist who is interested in how people connect to their natural environment and the role of science in supporting that connection. In 2015, she completed her PhD in Human Geography at Lancaster University in the UK, which sought to understand local perceptions of scientific research in the Bolivian Amazon through participatory research with indigenous communities, park guards and biodiversity scientists. Her most recent research focuses on the links between citizen science, civic environmental stewardship and community resilience in urban settings.
Melissa Grigione’s primary research interest is mammalian spatial ecology - understanding how ecological and manmade elements influence home range size and location for particular species. Tools such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing technology, and molecular genetic techniques are employed to better understand these questions. Dr. Grigione’s research emphasizes conservation biology because she works with species whose populations have been seriously altered as a consequence of habitat degradation and fragmentation. In addition to wildlife biology, conserving these species requires an intimate knowledge of political and legislative systems, and community-level human dimension practices. She has worked with a range of species, including mountain lions, Florida panthers, bobcats, coyotes, and Florida burrowing owls. Her international research includes conservation projects for the puma, guanaco, and vicuna in South America and conservation of Neotropical cats (ocelots, jaguars, jaguarundis) along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Joshua Schwartz’s primary research interests are vertebrate behavior and sensory ecology with a focus on animal communication. The objective of his research program is to increase our understanding of how both proximate and ultimate factors, including adaptations facilitating the detection and assessment of biologically relevant sensory information, can shape the communication systems of animals.
Andrew Wier, PhD
Andrew Wier is broadly interested in the effects of beneficial bacteria on animal host tissues. His lab is currently investigating the symbiosis between the benthic Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes, and the bioluminescent bacterium, Vibrio fischeri. One of the aims of his research is to examine the early developmental changes in the squid light organ in response to the symbiotic bacteria. Projects in his lab have included identification of the microbial communities associated with healthy and diseased coral tissues, isolating symbiotic bacteria associated with the squid accessory nidamental gland as well as identifying free-living spirochetes isolated from the Hudson River.