New York City Urban Field Station

Scholars, Fellows, and Interns

The NYC Urban Field Station is host to both scholars-in-residence and graduate/early career fellows. It also provides internship opportunities through partnerships with other institutions and on individual research projects, as needed.


Scholars-in-residence are faculty members who are affiliated with the NYC Urban Field Station through collaborative projects and sabbaticals. Our residential facility allows us to host resident scientists for up to three month stays to conduct research on social-ecological systems. We hope to expand this program to include Forest Service scientists working on details at the Urban Field Station. Interested scholars should contact Team Leader Erika Svendsen.

Franco Montalto

[photo:] Franco MontaltoDr. Montalto, PE is a licensed civil/environmental engineer and hydrologist with 20 years of experience working in urban and urbanizing ecosystems as a practitioner, designer, and researcher. This experience includes planning, design, implementation, and analysis of natural area restoration and green infrastructure projects, featuring natural treatment systems for wastewater and stormwater management, as well as water harvesting and reuse systems.

Dr. Montalto directs the Sustainable Water Resource Engineering Laboratory at Drexel University, where he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering since 2007. He is also the  President and Founder of eDesign Dynamics LLC, a NYC based design firm. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the New York City Natural Areas Conservancy, and serves as Co-Chair of the American Society of Civil Engineer’s Technical Committee on Low Impact Development Computational Methods.

Prior to founding EDD, Dr. Montalto served as the wetlands engineer at the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, where he was responsible for the engineering design of the 139-acre Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus, NJ among other large urban wetland restoration projects.  He has worked overseas in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America and is the author of several publications in the water resources field.  He was also formerly a Fellow at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, a Fulbright Scholar, and an Adjunct Professor at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, where he received his first degree.

Maite Lascurain

[photo:] Maite LascurainDr. Maite Lascurain is Research Scientist with the Mexican Institute of Ecology’s Department of Environment and Sustainability (Instituto de Ecología, Departamento de Ambiente y Sustentabilidad) in Xalapa, Veracruz, México. She began her career as a botanist and ethnobotanist specializing in Mexican flora.  More recently, her work focuses on agroforestry and the foraging of nontimber forest products.  

Dr. Lascurain is co-founder of the Mexican Association of Botanical Gardens (Asociación Mexicana de Jardines Botánicos), serving as its President from 2001-2004.  In addition, she has served as Director of the Institute of Ecology’s Jardín Botánico Francisco Javier Clavijero (Francisco Javier Clavijero Botanical Garden), located in Xalapa, Veracruz.  Dr. Lascurain has collaborated as consultant with Botanic Gardens Conservation International and has published extensively about botanical gardens in México.

Currently, Dr. Lascurain is spending several months of her sabbatical year as Scholar in Residence at the NYC Urban Field Station, where she is collaborating with Dr. Marla Emery (U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station) and Dr. Patrick Hurley (Ursinus College) on a study of plant and mushroom foraging by Mexican immigrants in New York City.  The research seeks to document the social-ecological systems of foraging and its role in individual and community resilience, as well as the sustainability of such practices. 

Dr. Lascurain received her doctorate from the Universidad de Córdoba (University of Cordoba) in Spain, writing her dissertation on traditional management of Oecopetalum mexicanum, a wild edible fruit native to Veracruz.  She has offered courses and served as advisor to students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

NYC Urban Station Fellows

NYC Urban Field Station fellows are post-graduate, graduate, and undergraduate fellows that come from a range of programs, including partnerships with Yale Urban Resources Initiative, Rutgers Center for Resilient Landscapes, and other institutions on a case-by-case basis. Interested fellows should contact Team Leader Erika Svendsen or Lindsay Campbell.

Nazia Arbab

[photo:] Nazia ArbabDr. Nazia Arbab is working as a post-doctoral associate in the Center for Resilient Landscapes, which is a collaborative research effort of Rutgers University, the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. Dr. Arbab holds an M.S. in Applied Sociology from the University of Texas at Dallas and a Ph.D. in Natural Resource Economics from West Virginia University. She completed her dissertation in December 2014, titled "Application of a Spatially Explicit, Agent-Based Land Use Conversion Model to Assess Water Quality Outcomes under Buffer Policies."

Nazia is developing an applied socio-ecological simulation model of governance and ecological processes to address current and future challenges in forest resilience in the face of changing human development and climate regimes. She works with faculty and scientists from both Rutgers University and the Forest Service to develop a line of research focused on the study of disturbance regimes prevalent in New Jersey and the surrounding region, which include: fire in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), extreme storm events, developmental pressures, pests and invasive species, and changing economies and markets. She also works with project leaders to develop an institutionally-blended, cross-disciplinary team broadly bounded by forest resilience and management practice across the WUI and within the developed and developing landscapes in the urbanized coastal regions of the United States.

The research and collaborative team is expected to have a regional focus and will develop programmatic linkages throughout (but not limited to) the Silas Little Experimental Forest; the USDA-FS Urban Field Station network; the Rutgers campuses in New Brunswick, Newark and Camden; and other regional university programs.

Antonieta (Toni) Castro-Cosio

Antonieta (Toni) Castro-Cosio Antonieta (Toni) Castro-Cosio recently obtained her PhD in Public and Urban Policy at the New School in New York City. Her dissertation, titled “Dealing with Uncertainty: Infrastructures for Resilience in Urban Communities,” studied ways in which urban communities in the lowest income brackets build financial, social and ecological aspects of their capacity to respond to shifting environments and transition to sustainability. Her areas of interest include sustainable development policy, social-ecological resilience, and financial inclusion in low and moderate income urban communities.

With support from the NYC Parks Department and Partnership for Parks, she conducted research in Western Queens to examine the effect of greening initiatives on the social capital and social-ecological resilience of urban communities, an idea that resulted from a summer she spent as a research intern at the NYC Urban Field Station with Dr. Ruth A. Rae in 2014.

She also worked as research assistant at The New School doing research on issues of urban poverty, financial inclusion and sustainable communities, doing fieldwork in the South Bronx in New York to study the networks that make up their financial infrastructure, as a way to evaluate their resilience and their role in the ability of such communities to transition to sustainability.

Before getting her PhD, she served as Director of the British Embassy’s sustainable development cooperation program with Mexico – funded by the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs–, and as Executive Director of the University of Guadalajara Foundation, Mexico’s second largest public university. She holds a BSc. in International Relations from the Monterrey Institute of Technology, a MSc. in Development Management from the London School of Economics, and holds a specialization on Energy and Environmental Management degree from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO).

Vittoria Gnetti

Vittoria GnettiVittoria Gnetti is a PhD candidate at the University of Rome Three, Department of Science, Faculty of Biological Science, Rome, Italy. She is conducting research on Green Infrastructure and Urban Forests in Europe and on the Role of Urban Field Station model of collaborative planning and stewardship in the United States with a grant from the EU project GreenInUrbs COST Action FP1204.

Research on urban environmental stewardship helps to understand how local scientists, managers, and residents collaborate to manage urban ecosystems—including abiotic and biotic features, human communities, and the built environment. How can we enhance comparative urban ecosystem research with decision-makers and researchers in other metropolitan regions in the United States and around the world?

With a focus on green infrastructure and urban forests, this project examines how the Urban Field Station work with land managers, government and civil society actors to create innovative research programs about social-ecological systems and natural resource management in order to improve the quality of life in urban areas. This effort will share information between Europe and US research groups concerning the management and planning of urban green infrastructure. Attention will also be paid to the social context, understanding the engagement of multiple stakeholders—including civil society actors, and showing how research projects within the Urban Field Station are shared with the public. The aim is to develop methodological advancements in urban forest research in Europe, in order to build upon the Urban Field Station concept. The study thereby contributes to develop a deeper understanding of programs and initiatives associated with the Urban Field Station, with a specific focus on “research-in-action” programs. Vittoria will examine all the available tools—including inventory and assessment, field experience, and applied scientific research—in order to implement best practices and apply and adapt the Urban Field Station concept in Europe. Finally, the project focuses on the urban environmental stewardship research of the Urban Field Station, in order to understand motivations for and stewardship actions of a combination of larger public agencies operating at the citywide, regional and state-scales along with civil society groups (Fisher et al., 2012, Svendsen and Campbell, 2008).

Vittoria is residing at the New York City Urban Field Station from October–November 2015 and at Baltimore Field Station, Philadelphia Field Station, and visiting the Washington Office from November-December 2015. She is working with Dr. Lindsay Campbell and Dr. Erika Svendsen of the Forest Service and Bram Gunther and Novem Auyeung of the NYC Parks Department in New York City, with Sarah Low (Philadelphia Field Station), Dr. J. Morgan Grove (Baltimore Field Station), and Elizabeth Larry (Washington Office) of the Forest Service.

Frederik Møller

Frederik MøllerFrederik Møller is an Urban Landscape Engineering student from the University of Copenhagen. He did a 10 week internship at the Urban Field Station in the spring of 2016 working with the NYC Parks Department and Dr. Ruth A. Rae. During the internship he learned about the MillionTreesNYC program and also researched other million tree planting and stewardship programs in the United States. He worked with the NYC Parks Stewardship Team on various projects and helped to staff workshops and public tree planting stewardship events around the city. Frederik will earn a Bachelor’s degree in June of 2016 and start a Master’s graduate program in Natures Management in the fall at the University of Copenhagen.

Through working with the NYC Parks Stewardship volunteers, Frederik learned a lot about civic engagement. In Denmark civic engagement is not a part of the culture, and people are not organized in community groups to take care of street trees and their local natural areas. Through the internship Frederik Moller has not only learned about different Million Trees programs, which was his research focus, but also about American culture and the level of civic engagement in New York. Frederik feels very privileged to have this internship as part of his education, and for having the opportunity to see how NYC Parks works with its stewardship volunteers. He hopes to bring his experience back home to improve civic engagement in Denmark.

Christine Remein

Christine RemeinChrissy Remein is in her final semester of an Environmental Policy Master of Science program at The New School. Her thesis will be focused on articulating nature’s benefits in NYC. She will be working with the Field Station through Bram Gunther continuing the work done by our previous Fellow in creating a document called Nature’s Benefits’ Fact Sheets, which will serve as a means to articulate to decision-makers and the general public the value of nature for quality of life.

Chrissy studied political science and international relations at Duquesne University, practiced urban farming and community organizing in Pittsburgh, and worked in Togo as a Peace Corps volunteer for two and a half years. Chrissy also worked with The Student Conservation Association as part of the Communications and Marketing team as a Corporate Accounts Manager.

Benjamin Triscuit

Ben TriscuitBenjamin Triscuit comes to the Urban Field Station through the Parks Conservation Corps program as a fellow with the Forestry, Horticulture, and Natural Resources Group. He is conducting research on the Role of Ecosystems Services in NYC Resilience Planning. The expected outcome of this research is an education and outreach product to help engage the general public in sustainable decision-making. Existing research from NYC and abroad has shown that an ecosystems approach to land-use planning could result in more ecologically and socially resilient communities. He is working under Bram Gunther's supervision and in collaboration with Novem Auyeung throughout the project.

The Conservation Corps program also allows Ben to work with Kathleen McCarthy from the Wetlands division to collate and interpret data on NYC's lakes and ponds. Ben will also work with the thirteen other fellows in a variety of service projects throughout Parks until the program's end in June 2016.

Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Ben became a Brooklynite as of September 2015. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in Biology from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he engaged in several research projects and community-oriented internships. Upon graduating in May of 2014, he moved back home in Erie to work as a naturalist for the Asbury Woods Nature Center.


Stockholm Resilience Centre Fellows and Trainees

Starting in 2016, the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) and the NYC UFS formalized a partnership to advance research and applications on stewardship in urban social-ecological systems, civic engagement, urban ecology, and environmental governance.  So far students engaged in PhD research, master’s thesis projects, and master’s traineeships in SRC’s Urban Theme have collaborated with the NYC UFS. 

This project is part of an ongoing exchange between UFS researchers studying urban environmental stewardship and Urban Theme researchers at SRC exploring similar issues. Specifically, it builds on a study that was carried out by Johan Enqvist and others, focusing on the relationship between sense of place and civic engagement in restoration, protection, management of urban environments. It also builds upon the Stewardship Mapping and Assessment Project (STEW-MAP) a long-term research project initiated at the New York City Field Station and replicated in other U.S. cities. 

Johan Enqvist

[photo:] Johan EnqvistJohan Enqvist is a PhD candidate at the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University. He is conducting research on Urban Social-Ecological Systems and the Role of Civic Stewardship in the United States with a grant from the Sweden-America Foundation.

Research on urban environmental stewardship has shown that citizen initiatives can play an important role in managing cities’ greenery and promote ecosystem services. Environmental engagement in densely populated landscapes is interesting due to the rapidly changing nature of both urban form and urban populations. How does protective behavior emerge under such conditions?

Building on existing research at the NYC Urban Field Station about environmental stewardship networks, this project will apply methods from sense of place research (e.g. Brown and Raymond 2007, Manzo and Devine-Wright 2013). Reasons for engagement in community gardening, tree planting, waterway restorations, and other activities will be compared with the place meanings held by participants. The aim is to identify biophysical forms and functions that carry important meanings and strong attachment, and can be seen as underpinning urban environmental stewardship. The study will thereby contribute with a deeper understanding of how fragmented urban ecosystems can be drawn on to narrate visions of nature in the city, and how stewardship is influenced by social–ecological relations. Attention will also be paid to the social context and the co-production of place meanings that may or may not influence pro-environmental engagement (Carrus et al. 2014), to form a fuller understanding of the motivation for stewardship actions in cities.

Johan will reside at the New York City Urban Field Station from March–May 2016 and at Cornell University from September 2015-February 2016. He will be working with Dr. Lindsay Campbell and Dr. Erika Svendsen of the Forest Service and Dr. Rich Stedman of Cornell University.

Johanna Jelinek Boman

Johanna Jelinek BomanJohanna is a masters candidate at Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden. As part of her masters thesis she will be collaborating with the Urban Field Station under the supervision of Dr. Lindsay Campbell, building upon current work on urban environmental stewardship.

Johanna has a bachelor's degree in Architecture from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm. Her studies in architecture were sparked by an interest in developing sustainable cities, especially in regard to balancing the relationship between urban growth and natural resource management, exploring ways in which cities can grow and develop without impoverishing the resources upon which they depend.

She brought these interests with her to her studies at Stockholm Resilience Centre where she has been exploring the concepts of resilience and urban social-ecological systems. She is primarily interested in the practical and organizational aspects of the emergence and evolvement of urban environmental stewardship and what role stewardship might play in environmental education, people’s perception and relationship to nature, and its role in creating a larger sense of biosphere stewardship in cities.

Apart from architecture she has also studied social anthropology at Lund University and Österlens Folkhögskola in collaboration with the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. During her time in Hawaii she participated in civic engagement in semi urban sites used for ecological farming and for spreading traditional cultural, historic and environmental knowledge of the islands, linking different institutions, communities and individuals together. This enriching experience gave Johanna her first taste of interdisciplinary research that combined sociology and ecology.

Read Johanna Boman's final thesis

Diana Kaliff

Diana KaliffDiana has studied Industrial Engineering and Management with an international, Spanish focus. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Technology, specializing in Energy Technology. Her thesis was about the energy recovery potential in Municipal Solid Waste in Puebla, Mexico. During that field trip she discovered the importance of social questions and decided to change her path.

The road to masters studies in social-ecological resilience at Stockholm Resilience Center (SRC) has included working a sailing ship in the Baltic Sea for the Sustainable Seas Initiative, engagement in Engineers Without Borders, and a general love for our common home: the planet. She has professional experience from areas of the private sector, such as sales, project management, and business development.

She will write her master thesis within the theme "resilience science for transformations" at SRC. Diana is at the NYC Urban Field Station as a trainee and is currently enrolled in supporting social assessments in Flushing Bay, the STEW-MAP project, as well as working with the Sadhana project on understanding and documenting Hindu religious and stewardship practices in the Jamaica Bay area. Diana will be working in coordination with both the NYC UFS and the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay.

Ailbhe Murphy

Ailbhe MurphyAilbhe Murphy is an environmental science graduate from the University College of Cork, Ireland, where she specialized in environmental biology.

During her degree, eager to cultivate a sense of the world’s cultural and environmental diversity she involved herself in many volunteer and research assistant projects. This allowed her to engage in fieldwork in diverse regions such as Landmannalauger Nature Reserve Iceland, Wakatobi National Park Indonesia, and rural community projects in Rikhia, India. This work and her travels in general ignited her interest in the different cultural attitudes and relationships to nature that she was able to observe.

Currently she is a first year master’s student of the Sustainable Development and Social-Ecological Resilience Program, run by the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University. During her masters she hopes to learn more about people’s relational values to nature and how these values relate to civic stewardship and sustainable behavior. She is also interested in how civic stewardship and sense of place contribute to psychological wellbeing, particularly in urban settings where maintaining people’s access to nature is of increasing importance.

As part of her masters Ailbhe will visit the New York City Urban Field Station for a one month traineeship this spring. During the traineeship she will work with PhD candidate Johan Enqvist as a fieldwork assistant, helping collect data for his current project on urban social-ecological systems and the role of civic stewardship in NYC. This project will build on ongoing work by researchers at the Urban Field station including Dr. Lindsay Campbell and Dr. Erika Svendsen and their cooperators, including Dr. Rich Stedman of Cornell University.

Totten Fellows

The Totten Fellows of the New York City Urban Field Station are emerging scholars—PhD candidates, early-career academics, and educators—from a broad range of social science disciplines conducting research on urban social-ecological systems. Lindsay Campbell is the Totten Fellows Program Coordinator.

An inaugural Emerging Scholars Workshop was held in June 2014 to launch this program, bringing together nine participants from the United States and Canada to share research-in-progress, seed a network of young scholars, and investigate the interface between research and practice across the New York City landscape. The group convened again in January 2015 for a writing retreat to advance individual and group writing projects. Currently, several of the Fellows are contributors to a special issue in development of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, co-edited by Lindsay Campbell and Nate Gabriel.


Gillian Baine

[photo:] Gillian BaineFormerly the Strategic Programs Director at the NYC Urban Field Station, Gillian has recently returned to her career as a classroom teacher in Brooklyn, NY. While with the NYC Urban Field Station, she worked closely with U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Areas Conservancy in the design and implementation of ongoing research on the meanings, uses, and values of public greenspace in NYC. Previously, she worked in urban community forestry and received her Master’s degree in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, where she studied across the disciplines of forest ecology, social ecology, and anthropology in pursuit of a holistic perspective on the urban environment. She is interested in childhood development and is particularly concerned with the intersection of environment, learning, and wellbeing in the lives of young people. Gillian holds her bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature; she has worked on a farm in the tropics; and she is a music lover and a living room musician.

Adrina Bardekjian

[photo:] Adrina BardekjianAdrina Bardekjian is a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto, Canada. Her research centers on exploring and communicating different stories, views and perceptions (or narratives) of the urban forest with respect to policies, practices and representations, and the social-psychology surrounding human behaviour within arboriculture. She is a researcher, writer and educator, and works with a number of organizations on a diversity of projects and initiatives. For more information, visit:

Sadia Butt

Sadia Butt is a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto, Canada, under the supervision of Dr. Neera Singh. She has been working in Urban Forestry for the last 15 years, as a practitioner, in research and as a volunteer in raising urban forest awareness through environmental education. Her thesis aims to investigate how engaged citizens through Resident Associations are empowered to the extent that they influence urban forest governance.

Luke Drake

[photo:] Luke DrakeLuke Drake is a Research Associate in the Department of Landscape Architecture and doctoral candidate in Geography at Rutgers University. His work explores community-based enterprise through a network perspective, and most recently has examined the flows of knowledge and resources that make up non-profit urban agriculture in New Jersey. This research draws on economic and urban geography, political ecology, and GIScience. In addition to research activities, Luke is also involved in outreach with a community garden coalition and a state-wide urban agriculture network, and enjoys gardening as well. For more information, visit:

Bryce Dubois

[photo:] Bryce DuBoisBryce DuBois is a Doctoral Candidate in Environmental Psychology at the Graduate Center at CUNY. He spent his formative years exploring the hills and rivers of Berkshire County, through which he developed a love for the outdoors. Because of this affection, he has sought to incorporate his interests in the environment with his interest in psychology in his graduate work. Bryce has been involved in several projects relating to the use and meaning of public spaces and seeks to contribute to a critically oriented perspective on human-environment research and scholarship. Bryce is presently Extension Associate for the Civic Ecology Lab researching Post-Sandy greening and environmental education in New York, and research assistant on an ethnographic project critically examining Hurricane Sandy Recovery in the Rockaways. Finally, he is working on dissertation research about coastal restoration in NYC post-Sandy.

Nate Gabriel

[photo] Nate GabrielNate Gabriel is an Assistant Lecturer at Rutgers University and an Adjunct Instructor at Rowan University. He received his Ph.D. in Geography from Rutgers in 2012.  His work combines interests in urban geography and political ecology, and focuses on the everyday practices that constitute urban environmental knowledge, including the practices of governance institutions in framing the resource environment.  He is interested in exploring the urban not simply as a site in which to examine the politics of the environment, but as a discursive frame through which nature and society come to be understood and produced.

Phil Silva

[photo:] Phil SilvaPhilip Silva is an environmental planner, advocate, and educator pursuing a Ph.D. in natural resources at Cornell University. Philip is the co-founder of TreeKIT, an initiative that helps city dwellers measure, map, and collaboratively manage urban forests. He also serves as an Outreach Fellow for Five Borough Farm, a project helping community gardeners in New York City tell stories about all the good things happening in their gardens. He is a regular contributor to The Nature of Cities, a collective blog on cities as ecological spaces. Philip has worked with many of New York City’s most celebrated environmental stewardship organizations, including Sustainable South Bronx, the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Just Food, New York Restoration Project, Gowanus Canal Conservancy, and Trees New York. He is a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program and an ongoing student of Dialogue Education. A native of the City of Newark who grew up on the Jersey Shore, Philip has a passion for the history, ecology, and industrial landscape of New York Harbor Region. For more information, visit:

James Steenberg

[photo:] James SteenbergJames is an environmental scientist focusing on forest ecology and sustainable management, based out of Toronto, Ontario. He got his Bachelor of Science and Master of Environmental Studies from Dalhousie University, and is currently a PhD candidate at Ryerson University, studying urban forest ecosystem vulnerability and neighbourhood-based stewardship. His past research has focused on climate change and sustainable forest management, including projects for the Halifax Regional Water Commission and the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers. More recently, he was involved in the development of Halifax’s urban forest management plan. In addition to his research career, James has worked in silviculture as a tree planter and planting foreman in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario, and in forest conservation in Nova Scotia. He is also on the Board of Directors at the Ontario Urban Forest Council. For more information, visit:


Yale Fellows

Beginning in 2014, the NYC Urban Field Station began a joint venture agreement with Yale University's Urban Resources Initiative to expand each organization's capacity to examine the interactions, impacts, co-benefits, and constituencies of natural resources and social systems in urban areas. This collaboration has led to a fellowship program for graduate-level students, where fellows spend a summer worked on an applied project with the Urban Field Station. Below are brief overviews of these fellows' work. 

  • Dana Baker's work focused on examining stewardship organizations in the Alley Creek Watershed. You can view her presentation and her final report.
  • Uma Bhandaram developed a GIS prioritization tool for siting rain gardens. You can view her presentation and her final report.
  • Dawn Henning's work involved understanding yard use and adoption of stormwater best practices. You can view her presentation and her final report.

Yale Fellows links above point to documents in PDF format. You can obtain a free PDF reader from Adobe.

Rutgers University - Center for Resilient Landscape Fellows

The USDA Forest Service’s Northern Research Station has partnered with Rutgers University to hire a number of undergraduate and graduate fellows as part of their joint Center for Resilient Landscapes, starting in 2015. Fellowships are associated with specific research projects and typically will occur during the summer season. Fellowship openings are announced here:

Matt Drews

[photo:] Matt DrewsMatt Drews is an Atmospheric Sciences Graduate Student in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University. After receiving his Bachelor’s in Meteorology from Rutgers in 2012, he became involved in Dr. Mark Miller’s lab group working with meteorological instrumentation and programming at the Rutgers Photochemical Assessment Monitoring Site, and has since developed an interest in ground-based weather observations and remote sensing.


For the CRL Fellowship, Matt is in the initial phases of working with representatives from the US Forest Service in assessing a surface wind model developed by USFS scientist Jason Cole. The model is hoped to one day be used to predict tree fall during severe weather events in NJ. Matt will be involved with assessing the accuracy of the model by comparing it to observed data from the New Jersey Mesonet using a test case (Hurricane Sandy, 2012). Once this initial assessment is made, the plan is then to work on improving the model’s accuracy by adding in more meteorological and dendrological parameters.

Natalie Howe

[photo:] Natalie HoweNatalie Howe recently completed her doctoral studies in Ecology and Evolution at Rutgers University, where she studied how lichens change forest soil moisture, chemistry and belowground microbial and arthropod communities. As lichens are sensitive to air pollution and mechanical disturbance, Natalie is broadly interested in how natural systems respond to anthropogenic disturbances. Prior to attending Rutgers, she completed a M.E.S at the University of Pennsylvania, studying the natural revegetation of lichens at the former zinc smelter site in Palmerton PA, and she also worked with the National Park Service’s Inventory and Monitoring Program, coordinating volunteers for early detection of invasive plants at Point Reyes National Seashore in California. She has taught at the University of Rhode Island W. Alton Jones Campus, at Rutgers, and at NJ state prisons in the Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons program.


In her work this summer as a fellow with the Center for Resilient Landscapes at the USFS Philadelphia Field Station, Natalie will begin a long-term study of how the Emerald Ash Borer will change the vegetation and epiphyte communities in Philadelphia’s urban forests. This study will examine how deer herbivory changes the trajectory of forest recovery after the death of the ash trees. It will also describe the plant community effects of treating individual ash trees with insecticide to protect them from the ash borer. These findings may provide information to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation department about the ecological outcomes of their management decisions, which may help inform their future actions in the parks.

Max Piana

[photo:] Max PianaMax Piana is a doctoral student in Ecology and Evolution, where his research focuses on the functional connectivity, dispersal dynamics, and natural regeneration of urban forests and plant communities. Broadly, Max is interested urban restoration ecology and the integration of science, design, and land management. Prior to attending Rutgers, he worked as an environmental researcher at the international architecture firm KieranTimeberlake and was a guest editor for Scenario Journal, an open access publication dedicated to transdisciplinary perspectives on ecological urbanism. Max has a M.E.M from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where his work and research centered on urban community forestry.


In 2015, as a USDA Forest Service Northern Research Center for Resilient Landscapes Fellow, Max has been assisting the New York City Urban Field Station in establishing a long-term urban afforestation experiment on the Freshkills Landfill in Staten Island. Located within a NYC Million Trees planting site, this study will examine the potential for selected genotypes of early successional tree species to accelerate canopy closure and advance urban afforestation practices on disturbed sites. Additionally Max will work with both the New York and Philadelphia field stations to integrate urban forest seed dispersal and recruitment experiments in existing and future restoration sites.

Joseph Rua

[photo:] Joseph RuaJoseph Rua is a master’s student in Ecology and Evolution, where his research focuses on wildfire and fuel loading in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. More broadly, Joseph is interested in forestry, landscape ecology, and the confluence of science and policy in government. Prior to his graduate work, Joseph earned his political science and public policy degree at Rutgers University. He then went on to work as a social science researcher at the Education and Employment Research Center at Rutgers, where his work focused on curriculum redesign and workforce development at community colleges. Joseph was a Harold and Reba Martin Graduate Fellow at the Eagleton Institute of Politics and worked with the DEP on GIS and land management issues.


This summer, as a USDA Forest Service Northern Research Center for Resilient Landscapes Fellow, Joseph is working with the Silas Little Experimental Forest researchers in New Lisbon, NJ on a project to explore the viability of hand laser scanners as tools to estimate surface fuel loading. This work, which is also Joseph’s thesis work for his Master’s degree, hopes to develop a new technique for estimating surface fuel loads. Joseph will be working with the USFS researchers to calibrate the scanner and compare scanning results with currently established methods of estimating fuel loading.

Amanda Sorensen

[photo:] Amanda SorensenAmanda Sorensen is a doctoral candidate in the Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution working with Dr. Rebecca Jordan. Amanda’s broader research interests include public perceptions of science, the role of citizen science in shaping public understanding of science, and epistemic and scientific practices of scientists and the public. She is particularly interested in the role of individual beliefs about science in citizen science research and informal learning through cooperative research projects. Her dissertation research investigates the effect of framing in various public participatory platforms (citizen science and crowdsourcing) on participant outcomes in these scientific projects in terms of public perceptions of and interactions with authentic science. Particularly, how, why, and when individuals of various backgrounds participate and meaningfully contribute to scientific projects. Additionally, the outcomes of these mutually beneficial partnerships between the public and scientists are particularly interesting.


This summer Amanda will be working as a Center for Resilient Landscapes Fellow in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and Rutgers University. This project seeks to understand how can an ecological restoration experiment be a catalyst for new forms of civic engagement and co-production of knowledge? This project proposes a social science research study that builds upon a current ecological restoration experiment in the Jamaica Bay region of New York City. We will seek to better understand the existing barriers to installing experimental designs of native maritime plantings planted further inland on public parkland, as well as future opportunities to expand or enhance this work. We also ask how knowledge about these plantings and this assisted migration approach is diffused and incorporated into park manager and private landowner knowledge and behaviors through different acts of civic engagement (e.g. signage, workshops).

Kari Williams

[photo:] Kari WilliamsKari Williams is entering her second year in the Rutgers Master of Landscape Architecture Program. She is interested in land use design and development on the urban fringe, with the goal of creating more livable and ecologically sound suburbs. Before coming to Rutgers she worked for the New York City Parks Department on Staten Island, and prior to that as a volunteer coordinator at Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Her undergraduate degree is in Urban Studies and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


This summer she will be working with the Philadelphia Field Station and the University of Delaware on their ongoing FRAME (Forest Fragments in Managed Ecosystems) study. Her contribution will be to uncover the historic land uses of each of the 38 urban and suburban forest fragments included in the study. The goal of the project is to create a framework to link the current ecological conditions of these sites to patterns in their past.

Intern Opportunities with the NYC Urban Field Station

The NYC Urban Field Station currently does not have a formal internship program. However, it does provide internship opportunities through partnerships with other institutions and on individual research projects, as needed. Please contact the UFS coordinator if you are interested in being notified when opportunities arise in the future.

Internship Opportunities with NYC Parks

NYC Parks offers opportunities for paid and unpaid internships. For more information, see their Internships at Parks webpage.

Measuring Tree Health with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Interns

An example of an internship in collaboration with a partner organization is the TNC LEAF intern program. Starting in 2014, TNC partnered with the NYC Urban Field Station to train and supervise college-aged interns who had previously graduated from the TNC LEAF program. These interns learned how to record early warning metrics of tree health, using Rich Hallett’s protocol, and collected data in Kissena and Prospect Parks, as well as street trees in Gowanus, Brooklyn. This project continues this summer with new interns.