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  • Faculty

  • Timon McPhearson

    Professor of Urban Ecology & Director of the Urban Systems Lab


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    D - 79 Fifth Avenue

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    Timon McPhearson


    Dr. Timon McPhearson is Professor of Urban Ecology, Director of the Urban Systems Lab, and Research Faculty at the Tishman Environment and Design Center at The New School. He is a Senior Research Fellow at The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, and a Research Affiliate of the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at The Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences. He studies the ecology in, of, and for cities to advance resilience, sustainability, and justice. In 2017 he was awarded the Distinguished University Teaching Award at The New School. In 2019 he was awarded both the Sustainability Science Award and the Innovation in Sustainability Science Award by the Ecological Society of America. In 2020 he was named an NYC Climate Hero by the NYC DOT and Human Impacts Institute and appointed by the NYC Mayor to the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC).  He has published over 100 articles, books, book chapters, and scholarly articles including in scientific journals (Nature, Nature Climate Change, Nature Sustainability, BioScience), books (e.g. Resilient Urban Futures, Urban Planet), and popular press (The Nature of Cities, Resilience Quarterly), and is widely covered in the press (e.g. The New York Times, The Guardian, The Nation, New York Times Magazine, CityLab, Urban Omnibus). He is a founding editor of Nature npj Urban Sustainability.


    Degrees Held

    PhD, Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources, Rutgers University, 2004

    B.S., Environmental Biology, Taylor University, 1997

    Professional Affiliation

    • World Economic Forum, Global Commission on BiodiverCities
    • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Lead Author for Working Group II, AR6
    • NYC Panel on Climate Change
    • World Resources Institute, Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, Advisor
    • USDA Forest Service, STEW-MAP Advisory Board
    • Future Earth, Urban Knowledge Action Network (UKAN), Steering Committee (Former Co-Chair)
    • Quantified Planet, Scientific Advisor
    • Natural Areas Conservancy, New York, Advisory Board

    Recent Publications

    McPhearson, Timon, Niki Frantzeskaki, and Nadja Kabisch. A modern guide to urban nature-based solutions. Ed. Edward Elgar (in contract, expected publication 2021). 

    Hamstead, Zoé, David Iwaniec, Timon McPhearson, Marta Berbés-Blázquez, Elizabeth Cook, Tischa Muñoz-Erickson. 2021. Resilient Urban Futures, Springer-Nature. 

    Elmqvist, Thomas, Xuemei Bai, Niki Frantzeskaki, Corrie Griffith, David Maddox, Timon McPhearson, Sue Parnell, Paty Romero-Lankao, David Simon, and Mark Watkins (eds). 2018. Urban Planet: Knowledge toward sustainable cities. Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9781107196933. 

    Pelling, M., Chow, W. T. L., Chu, E., Dawson, R., Dodman, D., Fraser, A., Hayward, B., Khirfan, L., McPhearson, T., Prakash, A., & Ziervogel, G. (2021). A climate resilience research renewal agenda: learning lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic for urban climate resilience. Climate and Development, 1–8.

    Lin, B. B., Ossola, A., Alberti, M., Andersson, E., Bai, X., Dobbs, C., Elmqvist, T., Evans, K. L., Frantzeskaki, N., Fuller, R. A., Gaston, K. J., Haase, D., Jim, C. Y., Konijnendijk, C., Nagendra, H., Niemelä, J., McPhearson, T., Moomaw, W. R., Parnell, S., ... Tan, P. Y. (2021). Integrating solutions to adapt cities for climate change. The Lancet Planetary Health, 5(7), e479–e486. 

    Kyrkjebo, N., Parris, A., Barnes, J., Azaroff, I., Balk, D., Baptista, A. I., Braneon, C., Calabrese, W., Codrington, T., Colon, J., Gandhi, F., George, M., Groffman, P., Gundlach, J., Carr, R. H., Holt, N., Horton, R., Jahangir, A., Ken-Opurum, B., McPhearson, T. ... Wagner, G. (2021). Rapid Research and Assessment on COVID-19 and Climate in New York City. Journal of Extreme Events, 2150010. 

    Andersson, E., S. Borgström, D. Haase, J. Langemeyer, A. Mascarenhas, T. McPhearson, M. Wolff, E. Łaszkiewicz, J. Kronenberg, D. N. Barton, and P. Herreros-Cantis. 2021. A context-sensitive systems approach for understanding and enabling ecosystem service realization in cities. Ecology and Society 26(2):35. 

    Lin, Brenda, Alessandro Ossola, William Ripple, Marina Alberti, Erik Andersson, Xuemei Bai, Cynnamon Dobbs, Thomas Elmqvist, Karl Evans, Niki Frantzeskaki, Richard Fuller, Kevin Gaston, Dagmar Haase, CY Jim, Cecil Konijnendijk, Harini Nagendra, Jari Niemelä, Timon McPhearson, William Moomaw, Susan Parnell, Diane Pataki, Puay Yok Tan. 2021. Cities and the new climate normal: Ways forward to address the growing climate challenge. The Lancet Planetary Health

    McPhearson, T., Grabowski, Z., Herreros-Cantis, P., Mustafa, A., Ortiz, L., Kennedy, C., Tomateo, C., Lopez, B., Olivotto, V., & Vantu, A. (2021). Pandemic Injustice: Spatial and Social Distributions of COVID-19 in the US Epicenter. Journal of Extreme Events, 2150007. 

    78. Egerer, M., Haase, D., McPhearson, T., Frantzeskaki, N., Andersson, E., Nagendra, H., & Ossola, A. (2021). Urban change as an untapped opportunity for climate adaptation. Npj Urban Sustainability, 1(1), 1–9. 

    Elmqvist, T., Andersson, E., McPhearson, T., Bai, X., Bettencourt, L., Brondizio, E., Colding, J., Daily, G., Folke, C., Grimm, N., Haase, D., Ospina, D., Parnell, S., Polasky, S., Seto, K. C., & Van Der Leeuw, S. (2021). Urbanization in and for the Anthropocene. npj Urban Sustainability, 1(6). 1:6. 

    Zhou, Weiqi, Steward Pickett, and Timon McPhearson. Conceptual Frameworks Facilitate Integration for Transdisciplinary Urban Science. Nature Urban Sustainability. In press 

    Grabowski, Z. J., McPhearson, T., Matsler, A. M., Groffman, P., Pickett, S. T. A. What Is Green Infrastructure? A study of definitions in US city planning. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. In press 

    Andersson, E., Dagmar, H., Andersson, P., Cortinovis, C., Goodness, J., Kendal, D., Lausch, L., McPhearson, T., Sikorska, T., Wellmann, T. What are the traits of a social-ecological system? Towards a framework in support of urban sustainability. Nature Urban Sustainability. 1(1), 1–8. 

    Herreros-Cantis, Pablo and Timon McPhearson. “Environmental Justice of Urban Nature-based Solutions: Mismatches in Supply and Demand.” Ecological Applications. E02390. 

    McPhearson, T., Raymond, C. Gulsrud, N., Albert, C., Olafsson, A. S., Coles, N., Soininen, N., Fagerholm, N., Nagatsu, M., Vierikko, K. 2021. Radical changes for transformations to a good Anthropocene. Nature Urban Sustainability, 1(5), pp.1-13. 

    Rosenzweig, B. R., Herreros Cantis, P., Kim, Y., Cohn, A., Grove, K., Brock, J., Yesuf, J., Mistry, P., Welty, C., McPhearson, T. The Value of Urban Flood Modeling. Earth's Future 9, e2020EF001739.

    Herreros-Cantis, P., Olivotto, V., Grabowski, Z. J., & McPhearson, T. (2020). Shifting landscapes of coastal flood risk: environmental (in)justice of urban change, sea level rise, and differential vulnerability in New York City. Urban Transformations, 2(1), 9. 

    Alberti, Marina, Timon McPhearson, and Andrew Gonzalez. 2017. “Embracing urban complexity,” in Elmqvist, T. et al (eds), Urban Planet, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press

    Bai, Xuemei, Thomas Elmqvist, Niki Frantzeskaki, Timon McPhearson, et al. 2017. “New integrated urban knowledge for the cities we want,” in Elmqvist, T. et al (eds), Urban Planet, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press

    McPhearson, Timon, Madhav Karki, Cecilia Herzog, Helen Santiago Fink, Luc Abbadie, Peleg Kremer, Christopher M. Clark, Matthew I. Palmer, Katia Perini, and Marielle Dubbeling. 2017. “Urban Ecosystems and Biodiversity.” In Cynthia Rozensweig, William Solecki, et al. Eds, Urban Climate Change Research Network Second Assessment Report on Climate Change in Cities (ARC3-2), forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

    Depietri, Yaella and Timon McPhearson. 2017. “Integrating the grey, green, and blue in cities: Nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation and risk reduction,” in Kabisch, N., Korn, H., Stadler, J., Bonn, A. (Eds), Nature-based Solutions to Climate Change in Urban Areas: Linkages Between Science, Policy, and Practice, Springer.

    McPhearson, Timon, David Iwaniec, and Xuemei Bai. 2017. “Positives visions for guiding transformations toward desirable urban futures.”  Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability (Special Issue), 22:33–40 DOI: 10.1016/j.cosust.2017.04.004

    Romero-Lankao, Patricia, Timon McPhearson, and Debra J. Davidson. 2017. “The food-energy-water nexus and urban complexity.” Nature Climate Change, 7:233-235, doi:10.1038/nclimate3260

    McPhearson, Timon, Sue Parnell, David Simon, Owen Gaffney, Thomas Elmqvist, Xuemei Bai, Debra Roberts, Aromar Revi. 2016. “Scientists must have a say in the future of cities.” Nature, 538:165-166.

    Groffman, Peter, Cadenasso, Mary, Cavender-Bares, Jeannine, Childers, Daniel, Grimm, Nancy, Grove, Morgan, Hobbie, Sarah, Hutyra, Lucy, Jenerette, Darrel, McPhearson, Timon, Pataki, Diane, Pickett, Steward, Pouyat, Richard, Rosi-Marshall, Emma, Ruddell, Benjamin. 2016. “Moving toward an Urban Systems Science.” Ecosystems, DOI: 10.1007/s10021-016-0053-4

    Bennett, E.M., M. Solan, R. Biggs, T. McPhearson, A. Norstrom, P. Olsson, L. Pereira, G.D. Peterson, C. Raudsepp-Hearne, F. Biermann, S. R. Carpenter, E. Ellis, T. Hichert, V. Galaz, M. Lahsen, M. Milkoreit, B. Martin-Lopez, K. A. Nicholas, R. Preiser, G. Vince, J. Vervoort, J. Xu. 2016. “Bright Spots: Seeds of a Good Anthropocene.” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 14(8): 441–448, doi:10.1002/fee.1309

    McPhearson, Timon, S.T.A. Pickett, N. Grimm, J. Niemelä, M. Alberti, T. Elmqvist, C. Weber, D. Haase, J. Breuste, and S. Qureshi.  2016. "Advancing Urban Ecology Toward a Science of Cities." BioScience 66(3):198-212, doi: 10.1093/biosci/biw002.

    McPhearson, Timon, Erik Andersson, Thomas Elmqvist, and Niki Frantzeskaki. 2015. “Resilience Of and Through Urban Ecosystem Services,“ Ecosystem Services (Special Issue) 12:152-156, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2014.07.012

    Kremer, Peleg, Erik Andersson, Timon McPhearson, and Thomas Elmqvist. 2015. “Advancing the Frontier of Urban Ecosystem Services Research.” Ecosystem Services (Special Issue),

    Andersson, Erik, Timon McPhearson, Peleg Kremer, Erik Gomez-Baggethun, Dagmar Haase, Magnus Tuvendal, and Daniel Wurster. 2015. “Scale and Context Dependence of Ecosystem Service Providing Units.“  Ecosystem Services (Special Issue),

    McPhearson, Timon, Zoé Hamstead, and Peleg Kremer. 2014. “Urban Ecosystem Services for Resilience Planning and Management in New York City.” AMBIO: Journal of the Human Environment (Special Issue) 43:502–515
DOI 10.1007/s13280-014-0509-8

    McPhearson, Timon, Peleg Kremer, and Zoé Hamstead. 2013. “Mapping Ecosystem Services in New York City: Applying a Social-Ecological Approach in Urban Vacant Land.” Ecosystem Services 11-26,



    Performances and Appearances

    • McPhearson, T. 2021. “Paradigm Shift in Sustainability Science: From Place-Based to Metacoupled”. Presentation for the symposium, Post-sustainability Science in the Transitional Era: Remaking Future Agendas and Pathways. City University of Hong Kong, Department of Public Policy. 
    • McPhearson, Timon*. 2021. “Global insights and challenges on Nature-based solutions for urban climate resilience.” Keynote, The Nature of Cities Festival. 
    • McPhearson, Timon. 2020. “Data Science for Co-Producing Resilient Urban Futures.” Seminar, NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP).
    • McPhearson, Timon. 2020. “A Nexus Approach to Nature’s Multiple Benefits to Build Resilience in Urban Areas.” Moderator for the Daring Cities 2020 webinar organized by International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). 
    • McPhearson, Timon. 2020. “Nature-based Solutions in and For Cities”. Panel presentation for Nature-based Solutions Digital Dialogues. The University Of Oxford. 
    • McPhearson, Timon, Annel Hernandez, Emily Noble Maxwell, Christian Braneon. 2020. “Extreme Heat, COVID, & Equity in NYC.” Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies, New York. 
    • McPhearson, Timon. 2020. “Resilience and sustainability: trade-offs and justice concerns” Invited Talk, Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton University, New Jersey. 
    • McPhearson, Timon. 2020. “A Science of Cities for Resilience and Sustainability” Invited Talk, Cornell Urban Tech Hub, New York. 
    • McPhearson, Timon. 2020. “Earth Day 2020 and COVID-19. How Are Environmental and Health Crises Linked? Future Earth.” Invited Talk, Future Earth. 
    • McPhearson, Timon. 2020. “Nature-based solutions for Urban Climate Resilience.” Climate Change and Cities Lecture Series, Invited Talk, MIT, Department of Urban Planning and Policy, Cambridge, MA. 
    • McPhearson, Timon. 2020. “Urban Futures: Building a Science of Cities for Resilience and Sustainability.” 2020 Barry Commoner Lecture on the Environment, Keynote Lecture at Marymount Manhattan College, New York.
    • McPhearson, Timon, Kristin Baja, and Steward Pickett. 2020. “Is Green Infrastructure Fair? A science conversation.” Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies, WNYC Greene Space, New York. 
    • McPhearson, Timon. 2019. “Urban Futures: Transforming Cities for Resilience and Sustainability.” Voices of Discovery series at Elon University, Elon, NC. 

    Research Interests

    Urban ecosystems, social-ecological-technological systems, nature-based solutions, resilience, equity, environmental justice, urban planning, sustainability, biodiversity

    Awards And Honors

    2020 NYC Climate Heroes Award, NYC Department of Transportation and Human Impacts Institute, New York

    2019-2021 University Fellowship, The New School

    2019 Sustainability Science Award, Ecological Society of America

    2019 Innovation in Sustainability Science Award, Ecological Society of America

    2018 BiodivERsA Prize, awarded to the URBES Project team

    2017 Distinguished University Teaching Award, The New School, New York



    Future Courses

    Urban Resilience
    UENV 3400, Spring 2023

    Urban Resilience
    NEPS 5400, Spring 2023

    Past Courses

    Urban Resilience
    UENV 3400, Spring 2022

    Urban Resilience
    NEPS 5400, Spring 2022

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