My research is developing “Stewardship Science“, which combines environmental science research with community engagement. Most of this work involves urban agriculture and urban ecology research. My collaborators and I develop projects that test hypotheses about small-scale urban farming and urban ecology, and each project is designed to make a direct contribution to our local community. Some of this work happens at the St. Thomas Stewardship Garden, an on-campus project I established with students in 2011. Other projects are at raised bed sites we established at community centers in underserved neighborhoods. I also work with students at the award-winning Urban Flower Field, a hybrid environmental science/temporary public art project that we helped to create with Amanda Lovelee, Public Art St. Paul’s city artist-in-residence. Finally, I am passionate about BrightSide Produce, a financially sustainable model for delivering fruits and vegetables to small stores in lower-income urban neighborhoods. I co-created this business with neighborhood youth in 2014, and it has operated without interruption ever since. It creates community engagement opportunities for university students, research opportunities for scholars, and employment for youth from underserved communities.
With these projects, I am hoping to contribute to a movement that diversifies the evaluation of how academic researchers contribute to society. It aligns with my role as Director of Social Innovation and Ashoka Change Leader, in which I helped the University of St. Thomas become an Ashoka Changemaker Campus that spearheads the integration of social innovation into higher education.
I used to work on how the nutritional composition of resource inputs influences ecological interactions in invertebrate communities. A common theme through these projects is the importance of nutrient balance and how particular nutrient scarcities or excesses affect ecological processes. I’m still interested in these issues, but I’ve had to let this work go to focus on Stewardship Science activities.
I emphasize research that involves undergraduates and other students in important roles. I value the indirect effects of research productivity on undergraduate education. I am always interested in new ideas for research-teaching synergies that make life fulfilling for an academic.Are you interested in joining the lab? Send me a message here – firstname.lastname@example.org