• Faculty

  • Timon McPhearson

    Professor of Urban Ecology & Director of the Urban Systems Lab


    Office Location
    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, Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at The Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences. He is a Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a Contributing Author to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and a member of the World Economic Forum Global Commission on BiodiverCities.  In 2020 he was appointed by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to the NYC Panel on Climate Change (NPCC). He studies the ecology inof, and for cities to advance resilience, sustainability, and justice. His books Urban Planet and Resilient Urban Futures are widely read and his new book Nature-based Solutions for Cities will be out in 2023. 

    McPhearson was awarded the 2022 Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity as a member of the IPCC and IPBES. In 2020 he was named an NYC Climate Hero by the NYC Department of Transportation and Human Impacts Institute. In 2019 he was awarded the Sustainability Science Award and the Innovation in Sustainability Science Award by the Ecological Society of America. He was awarded the BiodivERsA Prize in 2018 and again in 2021. In 2017 he was awarded the Distinguished University Teaching Award by The New School.

    McPhearson has published over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles in top scientific and interdisciplinary planning journals including in NatureNature Climate ChangeNature SustainabilityThe Lancet Planetary Health, Landscape and Urban Planning, Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, and Environmental Science and Policy. He has written >30 book chapters, and >50 articles for popular press. He is founding Associate Editor of Nature’s npj Urban Sustainability journal, Associate Editor of Ecology and Society, and on the editorial board of Nature-based SolutionsUrban Transformations and other journals and book series. His work is widely covered in the press including in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Nation, New York Times Magazine, CityLab, Urban Omnibus, The Hill, Science Friday, NBC, PBS Newshour, Voice of America, among others.


    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
    • Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Contributing Author
    • 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. Nature-based Solutions for Cities. Ed. Edward Elgar (in contract, expected publication 2023). 

    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. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316647554 

    Grabowski, Z. J., McPhearson, T., & Pickett, S. T. A. (2023). Transforming US urban green infrastructure planning to address equity. Landscape and Urban Planning, 229, 104591. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2022.104591

    Pineda-Pinto, M., Frantzeskaki, N., Chandrabose, M., Herreros-Cantis, P., McPhearson, T., Nygaard, C. A., & Raymond, C. (2022). Planning Ecologically Just Cities: A Framework to Assess Ecological Injustice Hotspots for Targeted Urban Design and Planning of Nature-Based Solutions. Urban Policy and Research, 1–17.https://doi.org/10.1080/08111146.2022.2093184

    McPhearson, T., E. Cook, M. Berbés-Blázquez, N. Grimm, C. Cheng, O. Barbosa, D. Chandler, H. Chang, M. Chester, D. Childers, H. Eakin, P. Groffman, R. Hale, D. Iwaniec, A. Lugo, S. Markolf, M. Matzler, L. McPhillips, T. Miller, E. Rosi, D. Swindell, R. Roy Chowdhury, and T. Troxler. A social-ecological-technological systems framework for urban ecosystem services. One Earth. DOI 10.1016/j.oneear.2022.04.007 

    Frantzeskaki, N. and McPhearson, T.. (2022). “Mainstreaming nature-based solutions in cities.” BioScience, biab105. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biab105

    McPhearson, T. (2021). COP-26: Make Nature-Based Solutions a Top Adaptation Priority. Buildings and Cities.https://www.buildingsandcities.org/insights/commentaries/cop26-nature-based-solutions.html

    Spotswood, E. N., Benjamin, M., Stoneburner, L., Wheeler, M. M., Beller, E. E., Balk, D., McPhearson, T., Kuo, M., & McDonald, R. I. (2021). Nature inequity and higher COVID-19 case rates in less green neighbourhoods in the United States. Nature Sustainability. 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-021-00781-9.

    Galaz, V., Centeno, M. A., Callahan, P. W., Causevic, A., Patterson, T., Brass, I., Baum, S., Farber, D., Fischer, J., Garcia, D., McPhearson, T., Jimenez, D., King, B., Larcey, P., & Levy, K. (2021). Artificial intelligence, systemic risks, and sustainability. Technology and Society, 67, 101741. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techsoc.2021.101741

    Lopez, B., Kennedy, C., Field, C., & McPhearson, T. (2021). Who benefits from urban green spaces during times of crisis? Perception and use of urban green spaces in New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 127354. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2021.127354

    Hoover, F.-A., Meerow, S., Grabowski, Z. J., & McPhearson, T. (2021). Environmental justice implications of siting criteria in urban green infrastructure planning. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/1523908X.2021.1945916

    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 npj Urban Sustainability,  1(5), pp.1-13.

    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. https://doi.org/10.1080/17565529.2021.1956411

    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. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(21)00135-2 

    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. 

    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. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42949-021-00024-y 

    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. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42949-021-00018-w 

    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. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42949-020-00008-4 

    Herreros-Cantis, Pablo and Timon McPhearson. “Environmental Justice of Urban Nature-based Solutions: Mismatches in Supply and Demand.” Ecological Applications. E02390. https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.2390 

    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. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020EF001739

    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. https://doi.org/10.1186/s42854-020-00014-w 

    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), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2015.01.008

    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), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2014.08.001

    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, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2013.06.005



    Performances and Appearances

    McPhearson, T. (2022). “Cool Solutions for Hot Cities”. Invited lecture, American Museum of Natural History. New York, NY.

    McPhearson, T. (2022). “Building resilience, sustainability, and equity in complex urban systems." Invited lecture, Environmental Planning, University of Washington.

    McPhearson, T. (2022). “Urban Planning for Climate Resilience and Equity through Big Data and Spatial Analytics”. Invited Lecture, Department of Planning and Design, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University.

    McPhearson, T. (2022). “Toward a Science of Cities for Resilience and Sustainability”. Keynote, Urban Science and Sustainability Lecture Series, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

    McPhearson, T. (2022). “Building Equity into US Urban Green Infrastructure Planning”. Presentation and panel discussion. Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.

    McPhearson, T. 2021. “Pandemic Injustice: Spatial and Social Distributions of the first wave of COVID-19 in the US Epicenter”. Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

    McPhearson, T. 2021. “Pandemic Injustice: Climate, COVID and Equity in New York City.” Public Space Research + Design: Gauging Climate Inequities, American Institute of Architects (AIA), New York.

    McPhearson, T. 2021. “Climate Risks, Nature-Based Solutions, and Equity in New York City”. Cornell University, Department of Architecture, Art and Planning.

    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

    2022 Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity

    2021 BiodivERsA Prize, awarded to the ENABLE Project team

    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

    Equivalency (PHD)
    NEQV 7001, Fall 2024

    Past Courses

    Equivalency (PHD)
    NEQV 7001, Spring 2024

    Urban Resilience
    NEPS 5400, Spring 2024

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