Greater Everglades Research Initiative

The Greater Everglades Research Initiative (GERI) conceptual model, reflecting the research focus of the Environmental Science Program, is organized around four major human-caused stressors and the associated impacts on environmental resources. The model shows the relevance of FAU’s Environmental Science research to some of the most pressing problems in South Florida and other coastal areas. It is issue-driven and focused on aquatic systems, from their freshwater source out to the coral reefs, where many of these problems are most obvious. Humans are viewed as an integral part of ecosystems rather than separate from them; there are no ecosystems left on the planet that are unaffected by human activities. 

View the White Paper on the Greater Everglades Research Initiative

Ecosystem services

Healthy aquatic ecosystems have direct importance to humans. Although many practitioners of Environmental Science at FAU believe that ecosystems and their components have intrinsic value, defining values relative to humans also leads to good management decisions and the long term sustainability of our natural systems.

Human use

Humans use ecosystems in different ways and for different purposes. Their use is guided by ethics, culture, and economics. Research aimed at understanding these factors can help resolve environmental conflicts and lead to a more effective and efficient implementation of conservation projects and resource management decisions. The framework within which the large scale use of ecosystems by humans is governed, involves planning, public outreach and education, and ultimately policy. Understanding this framework is just as critical to effective resource management as is an understanding of biological processes.

Faculty research and education in this area draw heavily on examples from the large scale restoration and management of south Florida ecosystems. Our planning and policy expertise is sharpened by working in a setting where urban planning must be conducive to large scale restoration and management of our wetland ecosystems. South Florida's vast sensitive wetlands are directly adjacent to a large and burgeoning human population that is dependent on the same water, so South Florida is encountering sooner than most areas, unprecedented challenges in balancing human and environmental water needs. However, evidence is mounting that worldwide water conflicts are on the rise and they will continue. In other words, for many places around the world, it can be said that this is a problem coming to a town near you. Developing tools and expertise to solve such thorny water-related problems, put our faculty and students in a strong position to apply their expertise to other areas around the country, and indeed the globe.

Anthropogenic stressors

Human use of ecosystems can lead to many outcomes. Human activities that negatively affect environmental sustainability are termed stressors. In South Florida and other coastal systems, some of the worst stressors are the (1) destruction of wetlands, (2) hydrologic and climatic changes, (3) increase of contaminants, and (4) introduction of invasive species. Listed under each category are specific examples that are applicable to many areas of the world.

Research topics

The research interests of faculty in the Environmental Science Program reflect our emphasis on the freshwater and near shore marine systems, which dominate South Florida. We are strong in our ability to bring genetic and physiological tools to bear on environmental problems, as well as in our use of ecological models and GIS. We also have a number of faculty with expertise in the ecology and management of rare and endangered species, of which Florida has the dubious distinction of having more than almost any state in the U.S. The list of research topics will change often to reflect the change in our faculty membership and their evolving research interests.


The success of the the Greater Everglades Research Initiative depends on the diverse and talented faculty doing research in environmental science at FAU. This list is not exhaustive but is rather meant to facilitate contact between our faculty and students, scientists, or agency staff with a common interest in a research topic.


Name Research Interest Department Email Phone Number

Dr. Rindy Anderson


Behavioral ecology, cognition, avian biology, bioacoustics Biological Sciences (561) 297-5681

Dr. John Baldwin


Associate Director, Center for Environmental Studies

Conservation biology and population genetics

Biological Sciences (954) 236-1151

Dr. Brian Benscoter


Plant ecology, linkages between community and ecosystem ecology, influence of natural disturbances on ecological systems Biological Sciences (954)-236-1141

Dr. Randy Brooks


Behavioral/physiological ecology of marine organisms Biological Sciences (561) 297-3888

Dr. Xavier Comas


Peatland Geophysics: Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), Resistivity and Induced Polarization (IP) imaging, EM31  Geosciences (561)297-3256

Dr. Ken Dawson-Scully

Neurobiology of cellular stress and neuroprotection, using live cell imaging, electrophysiology, and behavior genetics. Biological Sciences 561-297-0337

Dr. Kate Detwiler

Primate hybridization and speciation, molecular primatology, primate behavioral ecology, conservation of African monkeys and their rainforest habitats. Anthropology 561-297-1355

Dr. Nathan Dorn


Freshwater ecology, community ecology Biological Sciences (954) 236-1315

Dr. Niwadiuto Esiobu


Environmental microbiology, drug resistance, antimicrobiosis and contaminants Biological Sciences (954)236-1128

Dr. Maria Fadiman


Ethnobotany, Llatin America, world cultures and environments ,
environmental issues, 
rain forestecosystems
Geosciences (561)297-3314

Dr. Evelyn Frazier


Terrestrial Ecology, Conservation Biology, Plant-Insect Interactions  Biological Sciences (561)297-4472

Dr. Jerome Haky


Structure-activity relationships in gas and liquid chromatography, alumina-based chromatographic stationary phases, aluminum phosphonate complexes in solution and in the solid state, organometallic polymers as selective adsorbents, new methods for analysis of proteins, peptides and other biological compounds Chemistry (561)297-3338

Dr. Howard Hanson


Atmosphere-ocean interaction,
boundary-layer meteorology,
upper ocean processes,
climate system feedback processes,
alternative/renewable energy strategies
Geosciences; Center for Ocean Energy Technology (561) 297-2460

Dr. M.D. Hanisak


Ecology and physiology of marine plants Harbor Branch dhanisak@fau.du (772) 465-2400

Dr. Kristen Hart


Population-level studies of the ecology of herpetofauna and other wildlife U.S. Geological Survey (954) 236-1067

Dr. Tobin Hindle

Ecological Regeneration, Strategies to integrate Science, Society and Nature, Geographical Information Science Geosciences 561-297-2846

Dr. Colin Hughes


Evolutionary Genetics and its relationship to conservation Biological Sciences 954-236-1156

Dr. Russ Ivy


Transport network analysis, economic and socio-cultural impacts of tourism, urban revitalization, regional development and planning  Geosciences (561) 297-3295

Dr. Stephen Kajiura


Functional morphology & sensory biology of fishes Biological Sciences (561) 297-2677

Dr. Marguerite Koch-Rose


Marine botany and nutrient cycling in tropical systems Biological Sciences (561) 297-3325

Dr. Brian LaPointe


Algal physiology and biochemistry, seagrass and coral reef ecology, eutrophication, marine
bioinvasions, marine conservation.
Harbor Branch (772) 465-2400

Dr. William Louda


Spatial and temporal modeling and monitoring of phytoplankton / periphyton / microalgae in marine, estuarine and fresh water aquatic systems,howardLipophilic pigments --> chlorophylls, chlorophyll derivatives, carotenoids Chemistry blouda@fau.du 561-297-3309

Dr. Daniel Meeroff


Solid Waste Management, Water Chemistry, Hazardous Waste Treatment, Pollution Prevention, Water/Wastewater Treatment Processes, Green Engineering College of Engineering and Computer Science; Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering (561)297-3099

Dr. Scott Markwith


Biogeography, biogeomorphology, population and conservation genetics 
vegetation dynamics and disturbance, aquatic systems
Geosciences (561) 297-3250

Dr. Sarah Milton


Physiological responses to environmental stress, primarily the effects of hypoxia and anoxia on the brain, animal models of anoxia and hypoxia tolerance, neuroprotective pathways in brain anoxia, reactive oxygen species and aging Biological Sciences (561) 297-3327

Dr. Diana Mitsova


Environmental modeling, climate change, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), spatial statistics, land cover change modeling, network analysis, hazard assessment. Urban and Regional Planning (954)762-5674

Dr. Jon Moore


Ecology, evolution, and distribution of fishes, biology of deep-sea animals, conservation and biodiversity of scrub and flatwood habitats in Florida, and herpetology. Honors College (561) 799 -8025

Dr. Erik Noonburg


Ecological modeling Biological Sciences (954) 236-1303

Dr. Greg O’Corry-Crow


Marine mammal population genetics, marine mammal movements, climate change Harbor Branch (772) 465-2400 x628

Dr. Anton Oleinik



Cenozoic stratigraphy, molluscan paleontology, paleobiogeography and paleoclimates of high-latitude regions Geosciences (561) 297-3297

Dr. Edward Petuch



The geology, biostratigraphy, and invertebrate paleontology of the Floridian Peninsula and the Atlantic Coastal Plain Geosciences (561) 297-2398

 Dr. Colin Polsky


Human dimensions of & global environmental & change

Center for Environmental Studies (954) 236-1104

Dr. Lianfen Qian


Time series analysis and regression modeling, survival analysis, environmental statistics, parameter and function estimation, weak convergence of stochastic processes and their applications to statistics. Mathematics (561) 297-2486

Dr. Charles Roberts


Extracting thematic information from remotely sensed imagery, reconstruction of past environments using remotely sensed data Geosciences (561) 297-3254

Dr. Tara Root


Ground water chemistry,water-rock interaction, groundwater sustainability Geosciences (561) 297-3253

Dr. Michael Salmon


Animal behavior, sea turtle biology Biological Sciences (561) 297-2747

Niel Santaniello


Environmental journalism, news writing, web research for journalism School of Communication and Multimedia Studies (561) 297-1564

Dr. David Warburton


Environmental geochemistry, especially in interactions between the terrestrial biosphere and the environment, and possible regulation of the environment by the biosphere Geosciences (561) 799-8648

Dr. James Wetterer



Biogeography, ecology, and environmental impact of ants,
biogeography and ecology of West Indian ants, distribution, impact, and control of exotic ants, impact of exotic ants on hatchling sea turtles in Florida
Honors College (561) 799-8648

Dr. Jeanette Wyneken


Integrative biology, comparative & functional morphology, sea turtle biology Biological Sciences (561) 297-0146

Dr. Zhixiao Xie


Geographic image retrieval, high resolution images
spatial temporal GIS analysis, environment health, invasive species.
Geosciences (561) 297-2852

Dr. Xing-Hai Zhang


Plant molecular biology and biotechnology Biological Sciences (561) 297-1011