“We start with the idea that the city is an ecosystem like any other ecosystem, and therefore we can take the knowledge that we’ve learned from 150 years of ecology and start applying that to the way we think about cities. Cities function similarly to any other system in the sense that there are materials and flows through the system. So taking that sort of analytical approach means that students who study with me start to gain a new kind of awareness of the intersection of the different forces that affect the way the city works, the way it functions, and the way it changes over time.”
P. Timon McPhearson is assistant professor of ecology in the university-wide Environmental Studies program. His academic and professional research focuses on urban socio-ecologies, conservation of biodiversity, and restoration of damaged ecosystems and their associated functions. His current focus is on protecting and restoring ecological functions and services in the urban forests of New York City. McPhearson was previously an ecologist at the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation. He works with local policymakers, planners, and designers on urban sustainability research and education.