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

Coastal Resilience, BUEE co-PI

As Director of the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay, I lead and coordinate a variety of projects and initiatives that help agencies, communities and practitioners build coastal resilience, guide habitat restoration and improve environmental conditions.  Our current portfolio of projects include understanding the extent and impacts of flooding from sea level rise, king tides and storms; assessing the benefits of different shoreline types ranging from natural to nature-based to hard-structural features; monitoring the performance of living shorelines; and evaluating the potential of nature-based solutions for improving water quality. We work with an extensive network of partners ranging from city, state and federal agencies, community and environmental organizations, and other researchers.

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.

Dianne Greenfield

Biological Oceanography

My lab studies the complex feedbacks between human activity and aquatic ecosystem function using both field and laboratory studies. We focus on coastal environments because they include some of the world’s most productive habitats yet are disproportionately threatened by development, climate change, and other anthropogenic stressors. Examples of topics we cover include: the influence of elevated nutrients on water quality, harmful algal bloom causes and consequences, food web dynamics, and the application of new technologies to study processes in the field. Our work provides insight to coastal ecosystem processes and management.

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

    The Staniczenko lab develops new mathematical and computational techniques to understand how humans are impacting ecological communities. We work with field ecologists to collect and analyze network data on species and their interactions, 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. 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.