Big Marsh Park, Chicago IL

I am an urban ecologist. As a scientist, educator, & adviser broadly trained in ecology and evolutionary biology, my research and pedagogical interests include the Calumet region, novel ecosystems, spontaneous urban vegetation, benefits of urban greenspace, plant diversity and local adaptation, environmental justice, and Indigenous land management practices and traditions.

I support and lead physician scientists in training at University of Chicago in the dual-degree (MD/PhD) Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)

I am an advocate for greenspace in the Calumet region and advise organizations on environmental research, ecosystem services, and community engagement.  My small but ever-rewarding research program focuses on spontaneous plant communities that develop and persist despite the harsh conditions of post-industrial urban landscapes. I live to tromp through the hidden places between railroads and steel mills and am inspired by the tough flora that thrive in novel ecosystems. The history of land use in this region tells the story of humans, industries, and cultures -- teaching in the Calumet Quarter at UChicago was a true joy across almost ten years.

Click below to see a recent feature in Medicine on the Midway about 

Chicago's urban ecology, plus my own teaching and research!


February 2024: Presented our slag research program at the Chicago Park District's Community Science and Research Summit, followed by two other slag talks (Nathanael Pilla and Erin Snyder)! Calumet slag aficionados are on the rise. 
December 2023: Happy New Year and hooray for a 2023 publication under the wire! We surveyed vegetation at a few extant ridged gardens in the Menominee Nation and found an interesting diversity of plant species, potentially suggesting differences in the vegetation legacy at ancestral agricultural sites.

November 2023: Article accepted at Ethnobiology Letters with collaborators Maddie McLeester and Jeff Grignon! Watch this space for the final MS. 
September 2023: Led a Chicago Studies Urban Hike with incoming  UChicago students at Rainbow Beach Dunes
April 2023: Funds from an anonymous donor were awarded to support surveys for 10 Chicagoland slag sites by the experts at Midwest Biological Survey

September 2022: Started a new position as Associate Dean of Students and Executive Director of the Medical Scientist Training Program at UChicago.

August 2022: Lauren Umek presented pilot data from our slag research at the Natural Areas Conference.
August 2022: Check out this great article about 2022's Calumet Quarter, by Lily Levine! featuring photos and quotes from students and professors.
August 2022: Presented pilot data from our slag research with Laura Merwin at Ecological Society of America - in Montreal!
July 2022: Appointed to the Committee on Environment, Geography, and Urbanization at UChicago
February 2022: Spoke to UChicago's Environmental Research Group about urban greenspace.
February 2022:  Published in Restoration Ecology with collaborators Lauren Umek and Laura Merwin: slag is cool!
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