College of the Environment Faculty Research
Explore Gaia, Western's online journal of research, discovery, and scholarship. Read more about Undergraduate, Graduate, and Faculty research on campus and how to become involved.
Troy D. Abel
Professor. BS (public health), Indiana University; MPA (public policy analysis) and PhD (public policy and science and technology policy), George Mason University
- Courses in environmental history and policy, environmental law and policy, environmental policy analysis, and science in the policy process.
- Research interests focus on the dynamic tensions of environmental science and democratic politics in a variety of arenas including community-based environmental protection, environmental justice, and climate risk governance.
Andrew J. Bach
Professor. BS and MA (geography), University of California/Davis; PhD (geography), Arizona State University
- Courses in physical geography, climate, soils, and water resources.
- Research interests include glacial geomorphology, environmental change on Mt. Baker, Channeled Scablands, and soil genesis. I am looking for a student who is interested in mapping glacial moraines deposited during the Little Ice Age. As well as students with a soil background who are interested in projects similar to this study: Whelan, P., and A.J. Bach (2017) Retreating Glaciers, Incipient Soils, Emerging Forests: One-Hundred Years of Landscape Change on Mt. Baker, Washington, U.S.A., Annals of the Association of American Geographers: 107: 336.
Charles A. Barnhart
Associate Professor. BS (Physics) and BS (Astronomy), University of Washington; PhD (Planetary Geophysics) University of California/Santa Cruz
- Courses in Energy and Society, Energy and the Environment, Energy Technologies, and Life Cycle Assessment
- Research interests focus on the interaction of Earth systems and societal energy use. I employ net energy analysis, life cycle assessment and GIS to explore the energy and environmental impacts of energy resources and technologies.
Associate Professor. BS (horticulture), Eastern Kentucky University, MS (plant pathology), West Virginia University, and PhD (botany), Miami University
- Courses in Ecological Restoration, Ecosystem Management, Biostatistics, Wetland and Forest Ecology
- Research Interests include the development of protocols for large-scale plant establishment after industrial and natural disturbances. Foci include: 1) the influence of planting methods on beneficial microbial interactions during plant establishment 2) the interference of plant and microbial growth by invasive species and 3) the ecology and disease susceptibility of native trees used in habitat restoration.
Professor. BA (biology), University of California/San Diego; MS (natural resources conservation) and PhD (natural resources, policy and planning), Cornell University
- Courses in human geography, research and writing; Greening business policy and practice; graduate course on the history and philosophy of geography.
- Research interests include environment and society, the study of natural resource-dependent communities and persistent rural poverty in the U.S., native Alaskan populations at risk.
Brian L. Bingham
Professor. BS and MS (zoology), Brigham Young University; PhD (biology), Florida State University
- Research interests include the ecology of marine invertebrates with an emphasis on cnidarian-algal symbiosis. Current work in my lab focuses on the common intertidal anemones Anthopleura elegantissima and A. xanthogrammica and the fitness consequences of hosting different symbionts.
Leo R. Bodensteiner
Professor. BA (biology), Moorhead (MN) State University; MA and PhD (zoology), Southern Illinois University
- Courses in ecology, including fundamentals, limnology, stream habitat assessment, and fisheries management, as well as the College of the Environment core course and environmental impact assessment.
- Research interests are fisheries management, fish ecology, and aquatic habitat assessment and restoration.
Patrick H. Buckley
Professor. BS (civil engineering and geology), University of Notre Dame; MA (economic geography and South Asian studies) University of Washington; PhD (economic geography), Boston University
- Courses include; East Asia – society and environment, US-Canada borderland resource management, pacific rim environment, sustainability in Hawaii, environmental issues along the Pacific Rim, global economy. GIS, and spatial analysis.
- Research interests focus on: Sustainability in Hawaii – applying multi-regional modeling including input-output and cge techniques. Trans-Border Resource Management & Environmental Issues, US-Canada; Alternative Transportation – including k.
Andrew G. Bunn
Professor. BS, The Evergreen State College; MEM (resource ecology), Duke University; PhD (environmental science), Montana State University
- Courses in climate change, paleoecology, statistics and data science.
- Research interests focus on impacts of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems - especially forests. Recent studies include reconstructions of temperature and precipitation variability using tree rings; work on boreal forest growth in relation to the global carbon budget.
Rebecca A. Bunn
Associate Professor. BS (civil engineering), Michigan Tech University; MS (environmental engineering), University of Colorado; PhD (environmental science), Montana State University
- Courses in multivariate statistics, biostatistics, and plant-soil interactions.
- Research interests focus on plant and soil ecology and statistical methods for quantitative data synthesis. Recent work includes meta-analyses and experiments examining the effects of soil biota on plant-plant interactions in natural and invaded systems.
Kate J. Darby
Associate Professor. BS (chemical engineering ), Penn State; MS (environmental studies and certificate in not-for-profit management), University of Oregon; PhD (anthropology, with emphasis on interdisciplinary environmental social sciences), Arizona State University
- Courses in environmental justice, human ecology and ethics, and food systems
- Research interests focus on social and environmental justice, environmental justice pedagogy in higher education, sustainable food systems and urban socio-ecological systems
Associate Professor. BA (geography), Humboldt State University; MS (geography), University of Victoria; PhD (geography), University of Oregon
- Courses in Biogeography, Climatology, and Geographic Information Science (GIS)
- Research interests focus on using dendrochronology, geospatial analysis, and quantitative techniques to explore the long-term roles of climatic variability, human land use patterns, and natural disturbances in shaping forest, alpine, and coastal ecosystem dynamics
Associate Professor. AS Whatcom Community College, BS (fisheries) University of Washington, PhD (biological oceanography) Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California/San Diego
- Courses include water quality, marine ecology, and Indigenous marine management
- Research focuses on the nexus of Indigenous people and marine ecology, with a particular focus on clam gardens see clamgardens.com. I am also involved in a collaborate project to maintain an oceanographic buoy in Bellingham Bay. Additional I am working a number of initiatives to increase the number of Native Americans in marine ecology.
Nini Visaya Hayes
Assistant Professor. BA (Environmental Education), WWU; MiT (Masters in Teaching & Licensure), Seattle University; EdS (Social Justice Education) UMass Amherst; EdD (Teacher Education and School Improvement) UMass Amherst
- Courses in environmental education, education foundations, teacher education, and social justice education
- Research interests focus on equity centered teaching and learning, social justice education, the work of teacher educators of color, critical race theory, and critical environmental justice studies
James M. Helfield
Associate Professor. BA (English literature), Duke University; MES (environmental studies) York University; MSc (physical geography) University of Toronto; PhD (forest ecology) University of Washington
Research interests include ecology of rivers and riparian forests; linkages between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems; fish habitat and ecology; watershed management and ecological restoration.
Former Dean - Huxley College of the Environment; BS (Recreation and Park Management), University of Oregon; MS (Recreation and Park Management), University of Oregon; PhD (Recreation and Park Management), The Ohio State University
Research focusing on social dimensions of natural resources, particularly in the areas of wilderness and protected area planning and management, risk recreation, recreation specialization, aesthetics, rural community development and environmental policy.
Associate Professor. BS (Architectural Engineering), Cairo University; MA (urban planning), Texas A&M; Ph.D. (urban planning), UCLA
- Courses in Urban Planning, Planning Theory, Political Economy of Urbanization, Urban Design, Urban Geography, Regional and International Development.
- Research interests include uneven urban development, social and environmental justice, urban informality, post-disaster recovery. Current research examines long-term post-disaster recovery in China and the US, informal urbanization patterns, and the long-term effects of the housing foreclosure crisis.
Assistant Professor, BSPH (Environmental Health Science), University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; MS (Environmental Studies), University of Colorado-Boulder; PhD (Civil and Environmental Engineering), University of Colorado-Boulder.
- Courses include Watershed Biogeochemistry, Global Environmental Change in the Cryosphere, Biogeochemistry.
- Research interests include Aquatic Biogeochemistry, Cyrosphere-Atomosphere-Climate interactions, light absorbing aerosols, spectral geophysics, drinking water quality, glacial hydrochemistry and climate adaptation.
Wayne G. Landis
Professor and Director, Institute of Environmental Toxicology. BA (biology), Wake Forest University; MA (biology) and PhD (zoology), Indiana University
- Courses in environmental toxicology and risk assessment.
- Research is in developing new methods in toxicology, evaluating multispecies toxicity tests, and describing how ecosystems respond to stressors.
Tamara (Tammi) Laninga
Associate Professor. BS (Environmental Policy), Western Washington University; MA (Geography; Graduate Interdisciplinary Certificate in Environmental Policy), University of Colorado, Boulder; PhD (Planning and Design), University of Colorado, Denver
- Courses in environmental policy, planning, and sustainability
- Research interests focus on federal land use policy and planning, collaborative planning, community economic development, and the social components of bioenergy development
Associate Professor, BS (Engineering Geology), Stanford University; MS and PhD (Chemical Oceanography), University of Washington
- Courses include oceanography, marine chemistry, marine conservation and water quality.
- Research interests focus on ocean acidification, and its effects on food webs, and the role of marine vegetated areas in marine chemistry.
Erika E. McPhee-Shaw
Professor. BA (physics), Dartmouth; Ph.D. (oceanography), University of Washington, 2000.
- Courses: Oceanography, Previous Courses in Data Analysis Techniques, Coastal Processes, Quantitative Analysis, Mixing, Estuaries, and Sediment Transport, “Seafarers: Graduate Seminar on Maritime Exploration and Oceanographic Field Campaigns,” Graduate Seminar on Large Marine Ecosystems, Physiology and Fluid Mechanics
- Research Interests: Physical oceanography of coastal environments and continental margins. Mechanics of internal waves and surface waves, turbulence, boundary layers, and nutrient transport in coastal and freshwater systems.
Associate Professor. BA (biological sciences), BA (Biochemistry) and BA (Integrated Science), Northwestern University; MS (Biological Sciences) and PhD (Biological Science Population Biology), Stanford University
- Courses in ecology, natural history, population biology, conservation biology, biostatistics, and wildlife ecology.
- Research interests include carnivore-habitat relationships, dynamics of animal populations, predator-prey interactions, and wildlife conservation.
Michael J. Medler
Professor. BS (philosophy) and MS (environmental studies), University of Oregon; PhD (geography), University of Arizona
- Courses in GIS, natural resources, biogeography and wild land fire.
- Research interests center on developing techniques that simplify the mapping and understanding of complex biophysical processes such as forest fire, fire hazard, or habitat.
Jean O. Melious
Professor. BA (government and environmental studies), St. Lawrence University; MPhil (urban design and regional planning), University of Edinburgh; JD, Harvard Law School
- Courses in land use and environmental law, environmental dispute resolution, environmental impact assessment, and international environmental policy.
- Research interests include environmental and land use law. Prospective Master's students should consider Environmental Law, Environmental Dispute Resolution, and Environmental Impact Assessment.
Assistant Professor. Ph.D. (architecture), University of Oregon; M. Arch., University of Oregon; B.Arch., University of Notre Dame
- Courses in Indigenous spatial concepts, Decolonization and anti-colonial urban theory, Placemaking, Sustainable Community Development, Planning Theory, Urban Design.
- Research interests include Indigenous architecture and spatial production, anti-colonial urbanism, inclusive urbanism, Climate Change adaptation and resilience, Placemaking, post-disaster reconstruction and disaster resilience, remote housing and localized building processes
Manuel David Montaño
Assistant Professor. PhD (Applied Chemistry) and BSc (Chemistry), Colorado School of Mines
- Courses in chemical fate and transport, water quality, and environmental chemistry
- Research interests include environmental analytical chemistry, geochemistry, colloid and nanoscale chemistry
O. Eugene Myers, Jr.
Professor. BS (environmental studies), Western Washington University; MA and PhD (psychology and human development), University of Chicago
- Courses in environmental education, environmental history and ethics, and conservation psychology.
- Research and creative interests include social sciences and conservation; life-span psychological development of relationships to animals and nature; culture and environmental ethical formation; children's environmental design and empowerment; positive psychology and environment; environmental education evaluation.
Associate Professor. BA (German Language and Literature), Whitman College; MS (Environmental Studies, certificate in Not-for-Profit Management), University of Oregon; PhD (Life Sciences, with focus on science policy and science/technology studies), Arizona State University.
- Courses in environmental politics and policy, science-policy interactions, and environmental governance
- Research interests include understanding and improving the policies governing science to better serve the public interest, the use and uptake of scientific information in formal and informal environmental decision making, and cultural self-sorting into disciplines and programs at universities.
Rebekah A. Paci-Green
Associate Professor. BS (civil and environmental engineering), University of Washington; PhD (structural engineering and cultural anthropology), Cornell University
- Courses Taught: Natural Hazards Planning, Disaster Risk Reduction, Disaster Risk Reduction Planning Studio, Human Ecology and Sustainability, Risk Perception, The Planet magazine
- Research interests focus on how communities understand and adapt to natural hazards, community-based risk communication, and community-based development in hazard-prone location, comprehensive school safety for natural hazards
David A. Rossiter
Professor. BA Hons. (geography), University of British Columbia; MA (geography) and PhD (geography), York University
- Courses in human geography: cultural, historical, and political.
- Research interests: political geographies of settler colonialism and land claims, historical geographies of nature and recreation, British Columbia.
John M. Rybczyk
Professor. BS (wildlife biology), Michigan State University; MS (ecosystem biology), Eastern Michigan University; PhD (oceanography and coastal science), Louisiana State University
- Courses in wetlands and estuarine ecology, and general ecology
- Research interests are ecological modeling, coastal system response to climate change, estuarine ecology, carbon cycling in wetland systems.
Assistant Professor. BS (Biomedical Engineering), University of Wisconsin; MS and PhD (Energy and Resources) University of California/Berkeley
- Courses in Energy and the Environment, Energy Efficiency in Buildings, and Electric Power Systems.
- Research interests focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the buildings sector, with a focus on electrification of residential space and water heating.
David H. Shull
Professor. BS (oceanography), University of Washington; MS (oceanography), University of Connecticut; PhD (environmental sciences), University of Massachusetts
- Courses in oceanography, marine ecology, oceanography of the Salish Sea
- Research focuses on the structure and function of marine soft-bottom benthic communities and how they influence biological, chemical, and physical processes at the seafloor.
Froylán E. Sifuentes
Assistant Professor. BS (Chemical Engineering), Massachusetts Institute of Technology; MS and PhD (Energy and Resources), University of California, Berkeley.
- Courses include sustainable building analysis and design, energy systems analysis, mechanical and environmental systems in buildings, and renewable electric power systems.
- Research interests include decarbonization pathways for energy systems, mobility electrification, demand response, and the water-energy nexus of decarbonization the electricity grid.
Assistant Professor. BA, Connecticut College (Environmental Studies); MS, University of Washington (Aquatic and Fishery Sciences); PhD, The College of William and Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science (Marine Science)
- Courses in marine fish ecology, fisheries science, fisheries oceanography, statistics and modeling
- Research interests focus on juvenile fishes in marine ecosystems, fish habitats, and impacts of human disturbance in coastal ecosystems; use of statistical and individual-based models
Ruth M. Sofield
Professor. BA (biology), West Virginia University; MS (environmental science) McNeese State University; MS (environmental science and engineering) and PhD (environmental science and engineering), Colorado School of Mines
- Courses in environmental toxicology and environmental chemistry.
- Research interests include the effects of water chemistry on bioavailability of dissolved metals; occurrence, chemical characterization, and toxicity of microplastics in the environment; chemical composition of air pollutants; and the relationship between toxicology and society.
Nick R.G. Stanger
Associate Professor. BSc (Natural Resources Conservation), University of British Columbia; MA (Environmental Education and Communication), Royal Roads University, and PhD (Curriculum Studies in Environmental Education), University of Victoria
- Courses in Curriculum in Environmental Education, Environmental Education Foundations, Professional Writing and Presentation, Community-Based Education for Sustainability, Natural History for Environmental Education, Leadership for a Sustainable Future
- Research interests focus on sense of place, indigenous education, environmental refugees, curricular studies, complexity theory, resiliency, eco-critical thought, post-structuralism, and existentialism
Associate Professor. BS (liberal arts), Kansas State University; MCRP (city and regional planning), Rutgers University; PhD (geography), University of Texas, Austin
- Courses in the history and politics of planning, processes and methods in planning, planning for sustainable communities, planning studio and campus planning studio.
- Research interests include pedestrian planning, new urbanism, urban landscapes, memory and meaning, and Europe and Berlin.
Associate Professor and Director, Institute for Watershed Studies. B.Sc. Honours, University of Regina (Biology); Ph.D., Queen's University (Biology)
- Research interests include anthropogenic stressors in freshwater ecosystems, such as invasive species, climate change, habitat connectivity, and contaminants; approaches include field surveys, small-scale and large-scale experiments, and statistical modeling.
Joel N. Swisher
Research Professor. BS (civil engineering), MS (mechanical engineering), and PhD (civil engineering: energy and environmental planning), Stanford University.
- Courses in energy efficiency and carbon-neutral design.
- Research interests include the analytics of electric utility resource planning; integration of variable renewable sources and plug-in vehicles with the power grid; new business models for energy efficiency and greenhouse gas management in organizations.
Associate Director of the Border Policy Research Institute. BA (environmental economics), Western Washington University; MS (Earth Sciences), Montana State University and PhD (geography), University of Oregon
- Research interests are cross-border environmental, social, and political issues with a focus on labor migration in the North American context. Specific involvement in applied, policy relevant research on the U.S. – Canada border.
David O. Wallin
Chair and Professor. BS (biology), Juniata College; MA (biology), The College of William and Mary; PhD (environmental science), University of Virginia
- Courses in fundamentals of ecology, forest ecology, landscape ecology, and use of remote sensing in ecology.
- Research interests focus on conservation biology, remote sensing, and the regional-scale study of land-use effects on the structure and function of forest ecosystems. Recent work has focused on wildlife conservation and the structure and function of riparian forests.
Grace A. Wang
Professor. BS (political economy of natural resources), UC Berkeley; MS (forestry) and PhD (forestry), University of Minnesota
- Courses include environmental studies and sustainability, natural resource and public land policy (Forest Service, National Parks, BLM)
- Research interests include non-timber forest products, cultural resources, recreational visitor impacts, land manager decision making, and sustainability
Nicholas C. Zaferatos
Professor. BS (geography), State University of New York; MS (environmental planning), Western Washington University; PhD (urban planning), University of Washington.
- Courses include urban planning, sustainable community development, planning theory, planning studios, American Indian reservation planning.
- Research interests include growth management, community development, American Indian reservation development and intergovernmental relations, federal Indian policy, and Mediterranean sustainable community development.