Systems Ecology & Ecological Engineering

Systems Ecology & Ecological Engineering

The Systems Ecology and Ecological Engineering program provides students who are committed to solving environmental challenges that currently face human societies with an integrative education in science, engineering and policy.


Our graduate program provides students with an integrative education in science, engineering and policy that prepares them to develop interdisciplinary solutions, design novel engineering tools, and articulate creative policies to address a range of environmental challenges.


To prepare students for careers in ecology, engineering, and environmental policy, our program offers courses and opportunities for research in the following areas:

  • Ecological Engineering
  • Energy Analysis and Environmental Economics
  • Wetlands and Watershed Ecology
  • Community and Conservation Ecology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Environmental Policy

Our interdisciplinary graduate curriculum provides both holistic and highly-specialized courses and includes options for certificates in Wetland Sciences and Environmental Policy.



The Systems Ecology and Ecological Engineering program at the University of Florida provides a unique focus on the integration of science, engineering, and policy offered at no other institution. The program strives to advance the quest for a better understanding of the interface between humanity and nature first championed by H.T. Odum by promoting interdisciplinary science, developing novel engineering tools, and articulating critical policy and management applications of the research we pursue.

Education for Leadership Roles

  • We train the next generation of engineers, scientists and policy makers to meet the engineering, environmental and social challenges of the 21st century and foster better stewardship of the Earth.
  • We advance discovery and scientific understanding by integrating participatory research and experiential learning in an interdisciplinary environment.
  • We stress professional training, career development, ethics and the responsible conduct of scientific and engineering research.

Research Focus Areas

  • Ecological Engineering focuses on the interface between technology and the environment, developing engineering design solutions that incorporate the self-organizing and self-maintaining processes of the environment.
  • Emergy Analysis and Environmental Economics focuses on evaluation of ecosystem services and natural capital, energy resources, and environmental impacts using a unit of measure called emergy (spelled with an “m”).
  • Wetlands and Watershed Ecology focuses on the ecological and hydrological functions of watersheds and wetlands and on the critical linkages between ecosystems and the hydrologic cycle. Our interest in wetlands spans ecosystem health, wildlife functions, ecohydrology, and restoration, with the goal of advancing natural resources conservation and management.
  • Community and Conservation Ecology focuses on identifying how living organisms interact with one another in natural ecosystems and exploring how the strength and nature of these interactions are changing due to pervasive shifts in climate and changes in food webs. We use a combination of field and laboratory experiments as well as large-scale and long-term monitoring records to test hypotheses and a variety of media and education platforms to share this knowledge with the scientific community and public.
  • Ecological Modeling focuses on developing quantitative understanding of both human and natural systems from the perspective of their dynamic behavior and considers drivers, “tipping points”, homeostatic tendencies, and system hysteresis. We use hydrological and ecological models both for hypothesis testing and to support the conservation, management, and restoration of natural resources.
  • Environmental Policy focuses on establishing sustainable environmental policies and management frameworks through research, teaching, and service that address the interface of energy, ecology, and economics.

Research Benefits and Outcomes

  • Ecological Engineering research develops new technologies to reduce the impacts of human development on natural systems; improved management of natural resources to benefit both human and environmental health and well-being.
  • Emergy Analysis and Environmental Economics research improves our understanding of the costs, benefits, and tradeoffs of decisions related to land development, natural resource management (e.g., fish, forests, minerals), and energy production; supports natural resources damages claims from catastrophic environmental events (e.g., the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon oil spills).
  • Wetlands and Watershed Ecology research improves our understanding of the linkages between water management and ecosystem impacts; development of “sustainable” future scenarios that balance the needs of residential, agricultural, and natural land uses; improved understanding and methodologies for restoring impacted ecosystems.
  • Community and Conservation Ecology research gives us a firm understanding of the ecology of natural ecosystems and how species assemblages change in response to anthropogenic and climate-related disturbances is fundamental to the successful design and implementation of natural resource management strategies.
  • Ecological Modeling. Ecological models are increasingly being used to support critical environmental decisions, from the listing of endangered species to the “sustainable” use of water resources; models also allow us to test research questions that we may be unable to observe in the field (e.g., slow processes such as peat accretion, geomorphological changes, forest succession, etc.).
  • Environmental Policy. We transform research results into action by providing public policy options and guidelines for sustainable development.


Photo of Andrew Altieri Andrew Altieri Assistant Professor

580C Weil Hall

Photo of Christine Angelini Christine Angelini Associate Professor

575H Weil Hall

Photo of Mark T. Brown Mark Brown Professor Emeritus

Phelps Lab 11

Photo of James Cahill James Cahill Lecturer
352 294-9047

365 Weil Hall

Photo of Katherine Deliz Quiñones Katherine Deliz Quiñones Assistant Professor

208 Black Hall

Photo of Antarpreet Jutla Antarpreet Jutla Associate Professor

408 Black Hall

Photo of David Kaplan David Kaplan Associate Professor

102 Phelps Lab

Photo of Elise Morrison Elise Morrison Assistant Professor
(352) 294-9057

580B Weil Hall

Photo of Kathe Todd-Brown Kathe Todd-Brown Assistant Professor

108 Phelps Lab

To view a full listing of each person’s profile, visit the Systems Ecology & Ecological Engineering category in our directory.


The program is centered at the Phelps Laboratory in the heart of the UF campus. The Phelps Lab is the home of the Center for Wetlands, founded in 1973, and the Center for Environmental Policy, started in 1990. The Howard T. Odum Centers have complete ecological lab facilities (wet and dry), field equipment, vehicles, boats, computer resources, and a library. All students in the program have office space in the Phelps Lab. Lab facilities and equipment are also readily available for student use at the University of Florida’s Seahorse Key Marine Lab near Cedar Key, Florida and Whitney Marine Lab in Marineland, Florida.

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