Wetland Ecology

Wetlands are some of the most highly protected ecosystems in the world and for good reason. There are numerous ways that wetlands benefit society, including providing wildlife habitat, pollution filtration, shoreline protection, and carbon sequestration. In this course, we will examine the physical, chemical and biological components of wetlands and their ecological processes. Course material draws mainly from primary literature, including seminal papers of wetland ecology and novel research in the field.

Environmental Justice and Equity

 The EPA describes environmental justice as “no population due to policy or economic disempowerment, is forced to bear a disproportionate burden of negative human health or environmental impacts of pollution.” Examples include evidence demonstrating that low wealth communities have less tree cover, a deficit that leads to higher cardiopulmonary health issues. Course explores environmental justice in the U.S.. Topics covered include crime and stress, food security, air and water quality, park provisioning, environmental gentrification, and environment-related maladies.

Ecology of Farming

Ecological examination of subsistence and industrial farming, beginning with pre-agricultural ecological conditions in the paleolithic and neolithic and the transition to food production across geographic regions. Topics include optimal foraging/diet selection, climate change, and plant/animal domestication. Discussions of water, fertilizer, technology, and ethics in today's globalized industrial farming.

Oceans and Health

Focus on the concept of “One Health” that the health of the environment and the people who live in it are linked. The basis (from a biological perspective) of threats facing the marine environment and interactions between environmental and human health and their role in global health disparities. For example, in discussing fisheries and aquaculture, the course will cover environmental impacts of these extractive industries and their importance in human and societal well-being.

Marine Climate Change

Exploration of climate change science focusing on marine ecosystems and inhabitants - specifically ocean acidification, warming and sea level rise. Factors causing climate change, and how those vary spatially, focusing on sensitive polar ecosystems and marine mammal populations. Critical examination of climate change modeling using EdGCM (research-grade Global Climate Model), focusing on how scientists use models, observations/theory to predict climate, and assumptions/uncertainty implicit in modeling.

Evolutionary Genomics

The unification of genomic data, bioinformatic analysis, and evolutionary theory has transformed our understanding of human history, our place within the Tree of Life, and the impact that our species is having on those with whom we share the planet. This course will draw from the primary literature to familiarize students with the multifaceted power of genomics, with a slant towards examining human history and disease from an evolutionary perspective.

Genetics of Human Variation

Research over the last 50 years has demonstrated that the human species is characterized by low genetic diversity and extensive recombination. Yet, social constructions of 'race' based on phenotypic differences are ingrained in our understanding of how humans vary. This course will uncover how the human species varies at the genetic and genomic levels, in the context of other primate species. Given this background, we will discuss the social construction of 'race' and the intersection of macroevolution, genetics, and phenotype.

Oceans and Health

Students will gain a grounding in marine sciences which will help them to evaluate impacts of anthropogenic activities on both marine ecosystems and the humans that rely on them. After developing an understanding of the issues facing environmental and human health and well-being in marine systems, students will travel to Duke Kunshan University in China, to better understand environmental challenges facing a rapidly developing economy.

Ecology of Human Health

Humans are the dominant species on Earth and ecology is key to understanding the multiple feedbacks through which their activities affect human health. Fundamental principles of ecology, from population to ecosystem levels, will be examined through the lens of human health. Topics include human population growth and carrying capacity, why we age, infectious disease dynamics, the microbiome and human health, sustainable agriculture and food security, sustainable harvest of wild foods, dynamics of pollutants in food webs, ecosystem services to humans, and human impacts of climate change.