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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.
- Research Opportunities
Our program provides research opportunities for undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, and visiting scientists. Research assistantships and fellowships for graduate students are funded by federal, state, and industrial sponsors. Contact individual faculty members to inquire about current opportunities.
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.
- Employment Opportunities
Graduates will be ready for leadership positions in academia; consulting firms; national laboratories (USEPA, USDA, USACOE, NOAA, CDC, DOE, etc.); local, state, and federal agencies; and industry.
- Advanced Energy and Environment
- Advanced Environmental Resources Management
- Advanced Environmental Planning and Design
- Ecological Approaches to Coastal Engineering
- Ecological and General Systems
- Ecological Engineering
- Energy Analysis
- Environmental Policy
- Green Engineering Design & Sustainability
- Spring Ecosystems
- Global Environment Policies and Institutions
- Research Design
- Wetland Ecology
- Wetland Restoration and Management
- Wetland Treatment Systems
- Certificate Programs