Tony Wilson

Evolutionary Biology, BUEE PI

Our lab integrates studies at a wide range of both temporal and spatial scales in an attempt to identify general factors responsible for the generation of natural biodiversity in aquatic systems. We study a number of different freshwater and marine model systems using a combination of field, laboratory and experimental approaches to investigate how selective pressures contribute to the evolution of reproductive isolation. Studies on natural populations are complemented by experimental work in a large marine husbandry facility in which we can explore how environmental variation both promotes and constrains adaptive evolution.

Brett Branco

Environmental Science, BUEE co-PI

Our lab studies drivers and impacts of water quality in freshwater and marine systems that are highly impacted by urbanization. Our study sites range from shallow urban lakes in New York City parks to the ecologically significant Jamaica Bay estuary. To understand the interactions between biological, physical and chemical processes we employ a variety of methods ranging from field observations to laboratory studies to modeling. Topics of interest include factors reinforcing dominance of different primary producers in phosphorus rich shallow lakes; impacts of nitrogen loading and physical characteristics on water quality and ecosystem structure in Jamaica Bay; and sources and fate of microplastics in marine waters.

    Joshua Cheng

    Urban Soils

    Our lab explores a number of urban environmental sustainability issues, and aims to find green and sustainable solutions for challenging environmental issues in cities. We integrate field monitoring, lab analysis and experiments, as well as statistical analysis and computer modeling to study complex environmental problems, sometime coupled with studies on social dimensions. Most of our work is revolved around urban soils and its functions in natural and human modified systems in New York City. We work closely with agencies and community organizations to carry out research projects.

    Paul Forlano


    Using fish as model systems, my lab employs a combination of evolutionary/systems neuroscience with a cellular and molecular approach in order to identify neurochemical interactions in circuitry underlying auditory-driven social behavior, mechanisms of steroid-induced neural plasticity, and sex differences in brain and behavior. These studies largely focus on vocal, auditory and neuroendocrine circuits that are conserved across vertebrates. Recently, we have begun investigations on the oyster toadfish, a vocal species found in the Hudson River, and its adaptations for communicating in a noisy urban environment.

    Stephen Gosnell

    Community Ecology

    Our lab focuses on understanding the mechanisms that drive patterns in diversity (including impacts of human activities), how diversity impacts ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services, and how ecology can inform, motivate, and learn from management actions. Most of the lab’s field projects focus on understanding, restoring, and conserving coastal marine communities (e.g., oyster reefs, salt marshes, seagrass meadows), while lab and computational work explore topics including oil spill effects, diversity in hyperdiverse systems such as kelp forests and rain forests, and the practice of species reintroductions.

    Theodore Muth

    Urban Microbial Ecology

    Our lab uses DNA sequence data, in combination with culture-based bacterial analyses, to learn how microbial communities in urban environments are impacted by human activity. While only a small fraction of bacteria in most microbial communities can be cultured under laboratory conditions, total community DNA collected from environmental samples can be used as an indicator of the presence and relative abundance of most microorganisms, as well as the metabolic pathways and virulence factors represented within of the community.

      Phillip Staniczenko

      Food webs

      Our lab invents new mathematics and designs new computer software to understand how humans impact ecological communities. We work together with field ecologists to collect and analyze data on different species and how they interact, for example, which animals eat which insects and which insects pollinate which plants. We’re not only interested in how humans might be damaging nature, but also how nature benefits us and how we can support biodiversity. What kinds of flowers should we plant in our parks to attract pollinators and how can we use social networks to spread the word? Cities are big experiments where the natural and human worlds collide. Come join the lab and see what’s going on!

      Chester Zarnoch

      Benthic Ecology

      Our lab studies ecological processes across physiological, community, and ecosystem levels in urban estuarine habitats. We are particularly interested in research questions related to the management and restoration of urban estuaries. We use controlled laboratory experiments, field studies, and modelling techniques to address our research questions.