2013 CHANS Fellows follow “sustainable pathways” to network and learn

Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting

June 18, 2013

Nine outstanding junior scholars studying coupled human and natural systems will have a unique opportunity to interact and network with scientific thought leaders at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) in August as part of the CHANS Fellows program.

All the fellows will present at the ESA Annual Meeting, the theme of which is “Sustainable Pathways: Learning from the Past and Shaping the Future.”

"Some junior scholars who are interested in research on the interconnectedness between natural and human systems may not be able to attend conferences and other professional events without financial assistance," said Jianguo "Jack" Liu, principal investigator of CHANS-Net. “The Fellows Program was created by CHANS-Net with support from the National Science Foundation to help these promising scientists connect with other researchers at a prominent national event.

“Offering these networking opportunities will help the fellows become the next leaders in human and natural systems research, education and application,” said William McConnell, co-principal investigator.

The 2013 CHANS Fellows are:

Jennifer CostanzaJennifer Costanza, research associate at North Carolina State University, is interested broadly in the intersection between landscape ecology and conservation biology, and has expertise in the interactions among land management, ecological processes and conservation decisions. Specifically, she’s interested in how land use and land management decisions can lead to sustainable landscapes under future anthropogenic threats such as changing climate and increasing bioenergy demand and future climate change. Costanza uses a multidisciplinary approach, combining social science techniques with ecological models and spatial analysis tools. She’s currently using landscape dynamics simulation models to project the effects of climate change and bioenergy demand scenarios on future land use and wildlife habitat in the southeastern United States.

Costanza will present her paper “Landscape impacts of potential biofuel production scenarios in North Carolina” on Wednesday, Aug. 7 at 9 a.m. in M100HC, Minneapolis Convention Center.

Steve DavisSteve Davis is assistant professor of earth system science at the University of California-Irvine. At UCI and previously as a post-doc at the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Global Ecology, his research has focused on carbon emissions embodied in international trade, the commitment to future warming represented by existing energy infrastructure, and the climate benefits of agricultural intensification. Davis received his doctorate in geological and environmental science from Stanford University in 2008. Before Stanford, he earned a law degree at the University of Virginia and spent a few years practicing corporate law in Silicon Valley.

Davis will present the symposium “Telecoupled CO2 emissions: Implications of the growing dependence on internationally traded carbon” on Thursday, Aug. 8 at 10:40 a.m. in M100EF, Minneapolis Convention Center.


Krissy HopkinsKristina Hopkins is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geology and Planetary Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Rivers and streams in urban areas are often polluted and seen as eyesores to local residents. However, these aquatic environments have the potential to provide cities with valuable benefits such as recreation, flood control and clean drinking water. Hopkins’ research examines how urbanization alters hydrology and evaluates methods to reduce the impacts of development on waterways through green practices that soak up and store storm water. She uses historical datasets to reconstruct long-term land use change in watersheds throughout the United States and stream flow records to assess changes in water cycling.

Hopkins will present her poster “Characterizing hydrologic alternations following urbanization through time and across space among U.S. cities” on Wednesday, Aug. 7 at from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Exhibit Hall B, Minneapolis Convention Center.

Abby LynchAbigail Lynch, doctoral candidate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University, is a University Distinguished Fellow and a member of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability. Lynch is designing a decision-support tool for harvest management of Great Lakes lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) in a changing climate. Ultimately, she aims to conduct fisheries research, teaching, and outreach with a CHANS approach. She hope to have the greatest impact on the field through advocating for more effective management strategies to preserve fisheries resources for human benefit while protecting the ecological function that fish provide to their ecosystems.

Lynch will present her paper “Designing a CHANS decision-support tool for harvest management of Great Lakes lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) in a changing climate” on Friday, Aug. 9 at 8:20 a.m. in L100D, Minneapolis Convention Center.



Heidi PetersonHeidi Peterson, post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota, is part of the Twin Cities Household Ecosystem Project. Her current research links agricultural and urban systems to identify nutrient inefficiencies within the holistic food chain. Phosphorus is a non-renewable resource, essential for agriculture and human food production, which is being depleted rapidly within the United States and more slowly globally. Dietary choices made within urban households ultimately affect the entire system’s nutrient flux, beginning upstream at the farm and eventually downstream contributing to the impairment of our water resources. The objective of her work is to identify barriers or potential for increasing phosphorus use efficiency between agricultural and urban systems. Becoming more efficient in the nutrient transfer within the farm to city cycle reduces the potential for excess nutrients to enter waterways, contributing to eutrophication and hypoxia.

Peterson will present her paper “Quantifying the upstream flux of phosphorus to Minnesota’s Twin Cities urban food-shed” on Wednesday, Aug. 7 at 2:50 p.m. in M100HC, Minneapolis Convention Center.

Drew RayburnAndrew Rayburn is a restoration ecologist and postdoctoral fellow at the University of California-Davis. Rayburn’s current research focus is the application of spatial and agricultural science to support habitat restoration efforts in working landscapes of central California. He is part of an interdisciplinary team of scientists conducting stakeholder-driven research on reducing restoration costs, improving restoration success and quantifying restoration effects on key ecosystem services. The primary focus of the research team is rangeland ecosystems, which represents complex CHANS in which conservation goals must be balanced against economic realities associated with commodity production.

Rayburn will present his paper “Spatial methods for low-cost restoration of rangeland ecosystem services” on Wednesday, Aug. 7 at 11:10 a.m. in L100J, Minneapolis Convention Center.


Sadie RyanSadie Ryan, assistant professor of environmental and forest biology at the State University of New York-Empire State College, studies ecology at the human interface and its implications for conservation, sustainability, wildlife management, and disease ecology. Her interdisciplinary work incorporates tools from quantitative and applied ecology, geography and social science. She uses techniques from the lab to the field to the computer to the white board.

Ryan will present her paper “Beyond ecological success of corridors: Integrating land use history and demographic change to provide a whole landscape perspective” on Wednesday, Aug. 7 at 10:50 a.m. in L100D, Minneapolis Convention Center.





Steve WoodStephen Wood, Ph.D. student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology and the Tropical Agriculture and Rural Environment Program at Columbia University, studies two main issues: the effects of agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa and how biological organisms interact to contribute to the functioning of ecosystems. He is interested in understanding the impacts of economic and political pressure to increase crop production on nutrient cycling, biodiversity and livelihood strategies and nutrition. In particular, he studies how farm management strategies associated with the African Green Revolution impact the composition and functional capacity of soil microorganisms, which control most aspects of nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems and are crucial for the wellbeing of humans and nonhuman species. His research is conducted in the Millennium Villages Project sites.

Wood will present his paper “African Green Revolution interventions and the functional diversity of soil microbial communities” on Friday, Aug. 9 at 8 a.m. in 101J, Minneapolis Convention Center.

Wu YangWu Yang, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University, also is a member of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability. His broad research interests are in the field of sustainability science. He is interested in integrating multiple disciplines and techniques (e.g., ecology, socioeconomics, management, remote sensing, and system modeling) to study ecosystem services, human well-being, their linkages, and complexity in coupled human and natural systems. He also applies social psychological theories to understand the underlying mechanisms of conservation behaviors. He advocates for actionable science to shape policy making both for ecosystem services and human well-being. Based on the framework of Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Yang assesses conservation and development outcomes from both the ecosystem services and human well-being perspectives by asking three sets of questions: For the past decade, what are the outcomes of both conservation and development policies and what factors determine such outcomes? How and to what extent different policies interact with each other? Based on understandings of the first and second sets of questions, what strategies would enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of conservation and development policies? What strategies should be adopted to tackle the trade-offs and synergies between different policies to achieve both ecological and socioeconomic sustainability?

Yang will present his paper “Interaction effects of multiple conservation and development policies” on Thursday, Aug. 8 at 4 p.m. in 101J, Minneapolis Convention Center.