Environment @ Brown

Heather and former Brown undergraduate Megan Palmer (Class of 2014) just published an article in Marine Technology Society Journal on the value of taking an ecosystem services approach to assessing the impacts of tidal energy development. The results are described here, and also were picked up by RI NPR!

One of our youngest lab members, distracted by barnacles (who can blame him!) while monitoring our mussel predation experiment.

One of our youngest lab members, distracted by barnacles (who can blame him!) while monitoring our mussel predation experiment.

Leslie Lab members published results from a multi year study at 18 rocky shore sites from Maine to New York state in Ecosphere this week.

Mussels could be the perfect ‘sentinel’ species to signal the health of coastal ecosystems. But a new study of blue mussels in estuary ecosystems along 600 kilometers of coastline in the Northeast uncovered three key mysteries that will have to be solved first.

Read more…

Download the paper…

UPDATE: I’m no longer accepting applications for postdoc candidates for these competitions. A new call for postdocs will likely occur in mid June 2015. I encourage you to be in touch then. Best, HL


Applications are due November 1.

The Leslie Lab at Brown University is recruiting postdoctoral research associates interested in empirical and theoretical research related to coupled social-ecological marine systems. Candidates should send a short email outlining their interest to Heather_Leslie(at)brown.edu, after reviewing the information below and the funding opportunities available through SESYNC’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and Brown University’s Voss Postdoctoral Program. 



I welcome inquiries from creative and passionate researchers trained in a wide array of disciplines related to coupled social-ecological systems. Candidates with substantial mathematical modeling expertise, whether from a natural or social science perspective, are particularly welcome, as are candidates with a demonstrated ability to work as a member of an interdisciplinary team with researchers from multiple institutions, cultures, and career stages.

– Heather Leslie, Brown University

Areas of particular interest include:

  1. Investigating the dynamics of coupled social-ecological systems associated with small-scale fisheries in Baja California Sur, Mexico. I lead an interdisciplinary team of social-ecological system researchers from Mexico and the US. Together, we are investigating how the dynamics of the social-ecological systems associated with small-scale fisheries in Mexico’s Gulf of California are mediated by both institutional and biophysical factors, and how these systems respond to exogenous shocks, including climate variability and changes in political and economic conditions. We integrate natural and social science knowledge using a diverse array of qualitative and quantitative approaches in order to generate new coupled systems science that is directly relevant to policy and management in this region and other coastal marine systems around the world (e.g., Leslie et al. 2009, Reddy et al. 2013, Sievanen 2014).[1] I welcome project proposals related to this theme, particularly from candidates with substantial expertise in ecological theory, oceanography, and/or complex systems.
  1. Comparative analyses of the sustainability of coupled social-ecological marine systems. The place-based research in Mexico, together with earlier comparative projects on conservation outcomes (e.g., Leslie 2005, Sievanen et al. 2011), illustrate my interest in cross-site, comparative analyses of coupled social-ecological marine system dynamics. Using Ostrom’s social-ecological systems framework and the substantial qualitative and quantitative data we have gathered on the human and ecological dimensions of small scale fisheries over the last five years, we have identified distinct social-ecological systems in different parts of Baja California Sur, Mexico. Our approach enables a quantitative, cross-site comparison of SES dynamics and is not limited to fisheries-focused studies. I am eager to apply this and related quantitative approaches (bio-economic modeling; network analysis; multi criteria analyses) to a broader set of geographies in order to study the dynamics and outcomes of marine SESs, and welcome inquiries from prospective postdoctoral fellows in this area.
  1. Developing the theoretical foundation for coupled social-ecological systems science. Coupled social-ecological systems is an emerging field with strong roots in varied fields, including but not limited to ecology and evolution, economics, complex systems science, geography, anthropology, and environmental sociology. Yet the theoretical foundations of this field are still in a nascent stage, in contrast to the related disciplines. I am eager to work with young scholars who have ideas about how to develop and test theories of coupled social-ecological systems dynamics. Candidates with training in theoretical biology, applied math, and/or both the quantitative and critical social sciences are particularly welcome.

1. For references, please ‘Publications’ on the Leslie Lab website, http://blogs.brown.edu/leslie-lab/.


cropped-6.jpgLeslie Lab member Megan Palmer (Brown Class of 2014, Biology) penned a personal essay for Heather’s senior seminar, Engaged Environmental Scholarship and Communication, reflecting on her independent interdisciplinary research and capstone coursework in Biology and Environmental Science. 

Technically, there’s no camping on Block Island. But over the second weekend of the fall semester, my Coastal Ecology + Conservation class, including Professor Leslie, our teaching assistant Kara, and fourteen undergraduates, loaded up two trucks with tents, sleeping bags, and coolers full of homemade vegetarian food and trekked to the little island thirteen miles south of the Rhode Island mainland. Read more….

Erica Goldman, Assistant Director of Science Policy Outreach at COMPASS, blogged this week on ways academic scientists balance policy engagement with their teaching and research activities. I am honored to be called out as an example. Read the post here…. and check back soon to learn about this spring and summer’s field work in Baja.



Amphipod, courtesy of http://www.shore11.org/node/13325

Amphipod, courtesy of http://www.shore11.org/node/13325

A new study by Jeremy Rich and colleagues reports that anammox, a key process in the nitrogen cycle, is barely present in Narragansett Bay even though it’s a major factor just a little farther out into Rhode Island Sound. Scientists traced that to differences between bay and sound sediments, but that raises new questions about what’s going on in the Bay to account for those. Read more….

Slide1On Wednesday, April 30, in Salomon Hall 001 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, Brown will host the Beneath the Waves Film Festival. This is a showcase of several short, independent films about ocean science and conservation. Most of the films were created by scientists, students, and lovers of the ocean who had a powerful story to tell. The films are curated and selected by the Beneath the Waves Film Festival (www.beneaththewavesfilmfest.org), and EEB graduate student Robbie Lamb is acting as host for the screening.
The films will be followed by a discussion led by panelists Jon Witman, Heather Leslie, and Jen Galvin. We hope to see you there!

The Voss Environmental Fellows Program is delighted to announce the five recipients of the 2014-2015 fellowships. Celebrate the accomplishments of the current cohort and Brown’s commitment to engaged scholarship, training, and practice by joining the Fellows and friends at the Urban Environmental Lab garden on Wednesday, April 30 from 4 to 530 pm. RSVP to Heather_Leslie(at)brown.edu

Leslie Lab undergraduate researcher and Voss course participant Megan Palmer published an op ed earlier this year in The Providence Journal on the merits of offshore wind power. Read it here. 

P3260150A lot of research shows that temperature can strongly influence species interactions and sometimes shape the appearance and functioning of biological communities. That’s why a newly published finding by Leslie lab alum and Fulbright scholar Emily Lamb, along with Heather and Emily’s co-mentor, Dr. Jenna Shinen of the Estación Costera de Investigaciones Marinas (ECIM) in Chile, that changes in temperature did not alter the competitive balance of power between two rival species of Chilean barnacles is an ecological surprise.

Read more…

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