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 a diversity of species interact with each other and the environment, and the impact of humans. Understanding ecology and evolution is critical because many of the world's most pressing issues are environmental issues. Global warming, acid rain, water resources, chemical pollution, invasive species, emerging diseases, and declining biodiversity are just a few of the environmental issues that students from our program will be trained to address.
Our research focuses on many of these most pressing issues including the effects of contaminants and invasive species on aquatic communities, the ecology of microbial communities, disease ecology, the evolution of phenotypic plasticity, and climate change. Additional resources include research and educational opportunities at the Darrin Fresh Water Institute (DFWI) located on Lake George in the Adirondacks. The DFWI conducts a diverse array of programs in freshwater biology and environmental sciences and is actively involved in the Jefferson Project.
The Jefferson Project at Lake George was established in 2013 as a strategic partnership between Rensselaer, IBM, and the FUND for Lake George with the overarching goal to understand and manage complex factors that threaten one of the world’s most pristine natural ecosystems. Rensselaer students and faculty are directly involved in the Jefferson Project using an unprecedented array of new tools which will fuse monitoring, modeling, simulation, experimentation and forecasting to inform and compel decision- making for lasting protection of Lake George. This powerful model will deliver ecological benefits that will be felt throughout the U.S. and globally.