Making a sustainable impact
We conduct research on many aspects of environmental science and sustainability. With more than 100 separate studies underway, the research of our faculty and staff contributes to:
Understanding the dynamics of social-ecological systems with respect to natural resources management, biodiversity conservation and human well-being in the face of invasive species, climate change and other perturbations.
Assessing the effectiveness of management interventions attempting to resolve impediments to conservation, sustainability and social-ecological systems resilience.
What we work on
Our research is a mix of long-term studies on particular systems and novel initiatives into new areas of environmental concern. We typically collaborate with other departments at Cornell, other universities, state and federal agencies, and nongovernmental organizations in the United States and internationally.
Research programs and sites
Arnot Teaching & Research Forest
The Arnot Teaching and Research Forest covers 4,200 acres in central New York, about 15 miles south of Ithaca. It is the largest actively managed forest owned by Cornell University. At the Arnot Forest, faculty and students carry out CALS’ mission of teaching, research and outreach in service to the citizens of New York.
Center for Conservation Social Sciences
The Center for Conservation Social Sciences (CCSS) and its cooperators comprise dozens of faculty, staff, graduate assistants and undergraduate student researchers and interns. Research and outreach programs are supported by grants and contracts from federal and state agencies, nongovernmental organizations, foundations, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station. Our capacity to conduct large-scale studies is enhanced by our association with the Cornell Center for Social Sciences, which offers computer support access for CCSS research.
CCSS faculty may be affiliated with graduate fields and academic departments across Cornell, and staff are part of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (DNRE). Our graduate faculty have membership in the fields of natural resources, development sociology, public affairs, global development and water resources. CCSS faculty and staff also contribute to the public outreach and teaching functions of DNRE.
CCSS has earned an international reputation for advancing social science assessment and stakeholder involvement in natural resource management. A pioneer in this field and the oldest unit of its kind located in a university setting, CCSS (formerly the Human Dimensions Research Unit) has a history that extends to the early 1970s.
Cornell Biological Field Station at Shackelton Point
Conducting research in fisheries and aquatic ecology in New York state with a focus on Oneida Lake, the Great Lakes and other inland lakes in New York.
Cornell Maple Program
Pure maple syrup is a traditional natural product unique to North America. The Cornell Sugar Maple Program exists to improve the production and use of maple products by working with producers, consumers and others interested in this fascinating local product. The program provides:
- Maple syrup production information for educators, the general public and syrup producers of all skill levels.
- Information on maple activities including workshops and conferences.
- Information on extension and research projects.
Hudson River Estuary Program
For more than two decades, the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program have implemented a joint initiative to conserve important ecosystems in the estuary watershed.
Outreach and technical assistance: Our team raises awareness about estuary watershed biodiversity and conservation approaches; provides access to current, science-based information; and increases the planning capacity of municipalities and nonprofit partners through technical assistance. By exchanging ideas and fostering new collaborations, we have advanced effective practices and policies that will help to sustain the estuary watershed and inspire communities to play an important role in biodiversity conservation.
Research, analysis and mapping: We’ve increased our understanding of ecological resources and conservation priorities in the estuary watershed and continue to develop new data and tools in collaboration with scientific partners.
Cornell University extension staff at the Hudson River Estuary Program produced a short video to highlight how conservation planning can help municipalities protect important natural areas and build a more resilient future. The video is part a NYS Climate Smart Communities series designed to inspire communities to take climate action. Watch the video.
Little Moose Field Station
The Little Moose Field Station, located near Old Forge in the southwestern Adirondacks, serves as the field headquarters for Cornell’s aquatic research efforts in the Adirondack Mountain region of New York state.
New York Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit
The New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit was established at Cornell University in 1961. The New York unit is one of 40 units in 38 states established for the purpose of enhancing the management and conservation of our nation’s natural resources. We work on natural resource issues of interest to our cooperators, with an emphasis on New York state.
- Conduct research on natural resources issues.
- Provide graduate-level education and training.
- Provide technical assistance and training for our cooperators.
- U.S. Geological Survey
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
- Cornell University
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Wildlife Management Institute
- angela.fuller [at] cornell.edu (Angela K. Fuller) - Unit Leader - Wildlife
- grodsky [at] cornell.edu (Steven Grodsky) - Assistant Unit Leader - Wildlife
- suresh.sethi [at] cornell.edu (Suresh Sethi) - Assistant Unit Leader - Fisheries
- mdm44 [at] cornell.edu (Melanie Moss) - Administrative Assistant
New York Invasive Species Research Institute
Recognizing the threat that invasive species pose to New York’s diverse natural, historic and recreational resources, the state has established a statewide network dedicated to managing and mitigating invasive species impacts. Housed within the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at Cornell University and established in 2008, the New York Invasive Species Research Institute (NYISRI) serves as the bridge between the invasive species science and management realms. With funding provided through the Environmental Protection Fund administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and with organizational support from Cornell University, NYISRI works to improve the scientific basis of invasive species management by: 1) identifying on-the-ground research needs of invasive species managers and coordinating research to meet those needs, 2) organizing and participating in conferences, networks and collaborations to share information and advance invasive species knowledge, 3) fostering new collaborations among universities, agencies and organizations, and 4) identifying and securing funding as well as advocating for policies to support initiatives.
NYISRI supports the eight Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISMs) and works closely with other partners across the state to promote scientifically sound decisions and develop strategies to better measure the success of management practices. NYISRI is a founding partner of the Northeast Regional Invasive Species and Climate Change Management Network, which aims to address the compounding threats of climate change and invasive species. The institute also works closely with biocontrol researchers, extension staff and invasive species managers to support the development and implementation of biocontrol programs as a sustainable solution to widespread invasive species. Additionally, NYISRI provides updates and recommendations to the New York Invasive Species Council to help promote scientifically sound decisions and policy. Through collaboration with key partners, NYISRI is working to further improve decision making with an online, interactive tool for invasive species management in New York.
To learn more about NYISRI’s current projects and opportunities, visit www.nyisri.org.
Shoals Marine Laboratory
Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML) is Cornell’s marine field station on Appledore Island, Maine, and offers summer-credit courses and internships in areas ranging from marine biology to sustainable engineering.
The island campus includes labs equipped with microscopes, flow-through seawater for maintaining organisms, and boats of all sizes for field trips and research support.
The island’s “green grid” incorporates a wind turbine and solar photovoltaic array, making it a site for sustainable engineering projects as well as field studies in marine and intertidal ecology, migratory bird banding and other biological research.
Uihlein Maple Research Forest
The Uihlein Maple Research Forest is a core asset of the Cornell Sugar Maple Program. The forest is located in Lake Placid, New York, in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. The Uihlein’s 200+ acres of forest provide an outdoor laboratory for the study of maple syrup production, forest management, forest health and agroforestry.
Four Cornell faculty members have received Kendall S. Carpenter Memorial Advising Awards, which recognize sustained and distinguished contributions of professorial faculty and senior lecturers to undergraduate advising.
As the cherished rainforest in South America’s Amazon River region continues to shrink, the river itself now presents evidence of other dangers: the overexploitation of freshwater fish.
Alumnus Andy Zepp started the Finger Lakes Land Trust one night in a Fernow Hall lecture hall. Now executive director, he’s preserving the region’s iconic landscapes one acre at a time.