Current Research

Our faculty conducts research in a variety of different topical areas. To learn more about the labs and faculty members conducting research on a particular topic, check out our faculty profiles or individual lab web pages listed in the right sidebar.

Ecology

Ecology is the study of ecosystems, i.e., organisms and how they interact with their environment. Here at the School, on-going research in ecology explores both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Ecological interests of our faculty range from landscapes to individual species, including animal-ecosystem interactions, forest responses to global change, and carbon and water cycling through forests and wetlands.

Forestry and Forest Science

Forestry and forest-science research involves a wide array of topics, with forests as the unifying theme. Studies of stand dynamics, carbon sequestration, site productivity, silvicultural systems, economics, and the applications of simulation models allow us to understand how forests can produce a sustainable, high-value stream of products and ecosystem services that meet society's needs. To provide a rigorous foundation for this applied research, our faculty study tree physiology, forest-soil processes, carbon and nutrient-cycle science, invasive forest plants and pests, and forest ecology. Such research expands our science and process-based understanding of the forest ecosystem and its responses to disturbances, including global climate change.

Genetics and Biotechnology

Genetics and biotechnology research at the School focuses on the production of healthier, stronger, and faster-growing trees. Our faculty’s research interests center on forest trees and include population genetics, cell-wall biosynthesis, gene-function prediction, and functional genomics.

Natural Resource Policy

Natural Resource Policy research at the School focuses on understanding the sociopolitical context for natural resource management and decision making. Areas of concentration include sustainable ecosystem, forest, bioenergy, and water-resources management, as well as public involvement in natural-resource-agency policy making.

Remote Sensing and GIS

Remote sensing and geographic information science are used to gain a better understanding of how the underlying spatial patterns of vegetation, animals, and natural features are related across landscapes, ultimately leading to more-informed decisions regarding the sustainable use of resources. Our faculty investigate these areas using technologies such as remotely sensed imagery, geographic information systems (GIS), and the Global Positioning System (GPS), presenting their results on digital and paper maps.

Water Resources

Water resources are crucial to the sustainability and productivity of an ecosystem. Our faculty study many areas of water resources, including forest and wetland ecohydrology, stable isotopes of water, vegetation-atmosphere exchange of water, the effect of climate change on hydrological processes, hydrological modeling, water-resource conservation and sustainability, wetland restoration, classification, mapping, aquatic-terrestrial links, and conservation and management of wetland and upland ecosystems.

Wildlife

Wildlife (biodiversity) is often impacted by human activities and land-use patterns. Such impacts can be understood using a variety of tools, including habitat modeling, field studies of demographic traits, studies of animal behavior, and stable isotopes.

Wide-ranging research in the School yields insights into the impacts of forest and grassland management for bioenergy, the influence of overabundant game species on ecosystems, the population biology of wolves and moose on Isle Royale and the mainland, the role of large animals in forest nutrient cycling, the dynamics of Hawaiian food webs in forests naturally fragmented by lava flows, and impacts of wind-energy development on wildlife.