Research Areas

Students SCUBA diving in coral reef.

Coral reef research in The Bahamas. Courtesy H. Lasker

Our faculty conduct research in fields as various as sustainability, history, the media arts, neuroscience and biology, all focusing on the complex interactions in the environment.  Our research merges approaches and techniques from the humanities, and social and biophysical sciences. The subject matter embodied by Environment and Sustainability is broad, and encompasses topics such as studies of environmental activism, metropolitan environments, human origins, biodiversity over space and time, the origins of social systems, climate change, and pollution.

The research conducted through this program impacts communities across the globe and many applied fields, including as conservation, bioremediation, and epidemiology. EVS currently involves the participation of faculty across the College of Arts and Sciences, including faculty from the Departments of Anthropology, Chemistry, Geography, Geology, Communication, Media Studies and History.

Our mission is to train students with interdisciplinary competencies in creative activities, research, and scholarship. EVS faculty give students the opportunity to collaborate with scholars and researchers across many disciplines. Students looking for research opportunities should explore the research areas below and contact the specific faculty member.

Research Areas

Evolution

Our evolutionary biology faculty study a wide range of flora and fauna across multiple temporal and spatial scales.  Their research uses both genetic, organismal, and paleontological approaches to answer questions about functional anatomy, phylogeny and comparative genomics.

Omer Gokcumen: Genetics of what makes us human; Comparative primate genomics; Genomic Structural Variation

Juan Liu:   Evolutionary Biology; Phylogeny; Taxonomy; Fossil Record; Functional Anatomy of Auditory System; Vertebrate Paleontology

Stephen Lycett: Evolutionary Anthropology; Human Evolution; Physical Anthropology; Cultural Transmission and Evolution; Social Learning

Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel: Biological Anthropology; Evolutionary Morphology; Human Evolution; Modern Human Variation

Ecology

Faculty involved in ecological research study aquatic (e.g., fish, corals, Dinoflagellates) and terrestrial (e.g., forests, earthworms) organisms. Ecological research approaches used by faculty include GIS, Bayesian statistical methods and modelling.

Mary Alice Coffroth: Evolutionary Biology and Ecology; Population Biology of Marine Invertebrates

Nick Henshue: Oligochaetology; Organismal Biology; Restoration Ecology; Soil Ecology; Climate Education; Outreach, Science Communication; Teacher Education.

Chris Larsen: Forest Conservation Biogeography; Climate Change; Geographic Information Systems; Paleoecology

Howard Lasker: Evolutionary Biology and Ecology; Population Ecology of Marine Invertebrates

Scott Mackay: Ecohydrology; Climate Change; Remote Sensing; Geographic Information Systems

Adam Wilson: Global Change; Biodiversity; Ecosystem Function; Fire, Remote Sensing; Species Distribution Modeling

Trevor Krabbenhoft: Ichthyology; Genomics; Aquatic Ecology  

Behavior

Faculty approach research on animal and human behavior from both the social and neuroscience fields. Using both laboratory and field methods, our scientists seek to understand cultural and biological reasons for why animals and humans do what they do.

Carol Berman: Primate Social Behavior; Parent-offspring Relationships; Animal Behavior; Evolution Behavior; Kinship; Conflict Management; Ethological Methods

Micheal Dent: Animal Behavior; Animal Communication; Audition; Complex Sound Perception

Stephen Lycett: Evolutionary Anthropology; Human Evolution; Physical Anthropology; Cultural Transmission and Evolution; Social Learning

Eduardo Mercado III: Animal Cognition; Vocal Behavior of Vertebrates; Learning and Plasticity

Matthew Paul: Neuroendocrine Regulation of Reproductive and Social Development; Biological Rhythms; Sex Differences

Ann-Marie Torregrossa:  Physiology; Diet Selection; Salivary Proteins

Chemistry

Industrial and domestic pollutants pose a significant threat to ecosystems and humans. Here at UB, environmental chemists research these how contaminants (nanomaterials, flame retardants) function in the ecosystem and their impacts

Diana Aga:  Environmental and Analytical Chemistry; Fate and transport of emerging contaminants and endocrine disrupting chemicals; Treatment of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in wastewater; Environmental impacts of engineered nanomaterials; Bioaccumulation of brominated flame retardants

Social Science

Faculty in social sciences disciplines research questions of how humans interact with our environment across temporal and spatial scales. From the Iron Age to the Age of the Internet, the social sciences shed light on sustainability, socio-ecological systems, and human health.

Janet Yang: Science, Health, Environmental and Risk Communication

Tim Chevral: Archaeological Theory; Complex Societies; Colonialism; Ethnicity and Identity; Conflict and Conflict Resolution; Political Ecology; Pastoralism; Agricultural Intensification; Landscape Archaeology; Regional Analysis; Ethnohistory; Archaeological Chemistry; European Archaeology; Iron Age, Medieval, and Early Modern Scandinavia and Ireland

Craig Thomas:  Sustainability

Geology

Geologists in Environment and Sustainability apply geochemistry and hydrology to solve environmental problems. Field and lab methods are used in conjunction with numerical modelling to solve environmental issues across the globe, from WNY to Canada and Chile.

Richelle Allen-King:  Hydrogeochemistry

Christopher Lowry:   Physical Hydrogeology

Humanities

Though the sciences are essential in defining environmental issues, a growing number of scholars, policymakers, and sustainability professionals have recognized that scientific understanding alone never is sufficient to address the critical challenges we face today. We also need to understand the cultural, social, economic, political, and psychological forces that help or hurt efforts to deal with environmental problems, especially climate change.

Our faculty have expertise in environmental history and environmental literature. We are especially interested in five key questions. What are the root causes of our environmental problems? Why are some problems harder to solve than others? What shapes the way we think about the human place in nature – and why do people have different views about the environment? How has our relationship to the non-human world changed over time? What can inspire action to build a more sustainable society?

Josephine Anstey: Media Studies

Adam Rome: Environmental History

Carine Mardorossian: Caribbean Studies; Ecocriticism; Feminist Theory