The field of ecology and evolution represents an area of interdisciplinary research that is focused on understanding the biodiversity of Earth, how evolution generates biodiversity, how species interact with each other and the environment, and the impacts of human activities. Understanding ecology and evolution is critical because many of the world's most pressing issues are environmental issues, including global warming, air and water pollution, invasive species, emerging diseases, and declining biodiversity.
Our research focuses on many of these pressing environmental issues in a wide range of ecosystems including tropical rain forests, northeastern U.S. forests, and freshwater lakes, streams, and wetlands. In addition to our well-equipped research laboratories on the main campus, we also have outstanding facilities at the Darrin Fresh Water Institute located on Lake George (in the Adirondacks of NY) and the Aquatic Laboratory at the Rensselaer Technology Park.
A major cross-campus environmental research effort is The Jefferson Project, which was established in 2013 as a strategic partnership between Rensselaer, IBM, and the FUND for Lake George, The overarching goal is to use cutting-edge science and technology to understand and mitigate human activities that threaten freshwater ecosystems. Hundreds of Rensselaer students and faculty have contributed to the Jefferson Project, using an unprecedented array of new tools that integrate monitoring, modeling, experimenting, and forecasting to inform and compel decision making for the lasting protection of fresh water. This powerful model is delivering ecological benefits that are being felt throughout the U.S. and globally.