I specialize in not specializing, but my work has focused on 3 broad themes:
Ecological Research and Education
Interdisciplinary Institute Building
Making the Complex Simple.
I approach problems with a network perspective and connect the dots among problems, people, or projects to simplify complexity and create synergy.
I helped found the first University of California environmental research center in Yosemite National Park. The Sierra Nevada Research Institute’s Yosemite Field Station fosters synergistic links among science, art, education, minority outreach, and natural resource management. I recently left to found Vibrant Data Labs.
One of my major research interests is related to the ecological adage that “everything is connected to everything else.” What is the architecture of species interconnections in nature? How can we predict the response of complex ecosystems to human impacts ranging from species introductions or over-harvesting to climatic change? These are some of the questions related to Ecological Networks that I (and collaborators) investigate.
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Another major research interest of mine is to help bridge the gap between science and wilderness preservation. My work has focused on two general aspects of protecting high elevation wilderness meadow ecosystems in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. The first is to use science as a mediation tool to help resolve conflicts about management policy. The second is to help separate climate change impacts from local disturbances to wilderness ecosystems.
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I am a PSIA Level 3 telemark instructor and work with Telemarkzone, a non-profit network of backcountry ski instructors and guides dedicated to environmental stewardship. Our "Ski for Nature" partnerships foster sustainable, "positive impact" ecotourism in emerging wilderness tourism markets such as Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.
The Swall Institute is a residential work/play retreat designed to foster creative work in the inspirational setting of California's Eastern Sierra. The sustainably designed space has stunning views of 14,000 ft peaks and the deepest valley in North America. The house is located 20 mi south of Mammoth Lakes, CA at 6,900 ft. It is equipped with work space for 4 people and can accomodate small, informal working groups or retreats for weekly or monthly visits. To rent the Swall Institute, email me!
I am part owner of the new Awaken Café, an award-winning green business in downtown Oakland. Awaken Café’ was voted Best Café and Best New Business in the East Bay for 2008 East Bay. We are in the process of moving to a larger space that will re-invent the coffee house as an innovation incubator. Tired of cafe's that feel like study hall with people mesmerized by their laptops? We are about to change that to create a space that merges elements of an interdisciplinary institute, an eco-start-up incubator, and a coffee shop.