My Background

I teach and conduct research related to community-based conservation and park development.  My research facilitates landscape change to improve quality of life and enhance a public sense of place. Along with colleagues and students, my work builds relationships with stakeholders and community leaders to facilitate conservation planning in mixed-use landscapes. I appreciate interdisciplinary scholarship and need to work with many kinds of experts as part of my research program, including landscape architects, conservation psychologists, agricultural economists, agricultural engineers, fisheries biologists, planners, and ecologists.  My research has been funded by the USDA, the National Park Service, the USGS, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. I direct the Park and Environmental Behavior Research Lab, and am an affiliated faculty member in both the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, and Landscape Architecture.

Values for research

Conservation planning has become oriented toward landscape-based frameworks (e.g., watershed, ecosystem, regional scale) tied to collaborative forums in which disciplinary expertise, professional staff, and community leadership engage in decision-making processes.  An initial phase in most of my research is to foster stakeholder dialogue to develop a collective sense of place about a locale and region.  Along with sense of place, other concepts integrated with my research are social learning, governance, and ecosystem services. Research from the PEB Lab does not advocate a sense of place, rather it works to build a sense of place through stakeholder dialogue.  My role as a researcher creates an appreciative dialogue that encourages civic discovery and social learning about place, and channels the dialogue to create a governance structure for place-based conservation. 

Values with students

The backgrounds of students are meaningful starting points for graduate education and training.  I work with students from various disciplinary backgrounds and encourage the adaptation of their frameworks to understand conservation planning. We develop a process to share articles and books together, provide critiques, and exchange insights. An important outcome of these processes is the development of peer-reviewed manuscripts and initiation of a line of research for students.

Values with family

My family is comprised of Yumiko (my wife), Tatum and Samuel (my adult daughter and son), and Tiramisu and Kahlua (my two guinea pigs).  We enjoy swimming, bicycling, gardening, prairies, and winter sports, and generally appreciate outdoor activities throughout seasons of the year.  I believe a good life is centered on family, friends and creating beauty in everyday places.  Values for my family and research converge in ways that encourage all communities to create beauty in everyday places.