Our faculty experts help explain the most mind-boggling scientific developments.

In fact, when a recent report showed the westward migration of a number of eastern tree species, The Christian Science Monitor called Todd Lookingbill, a landscape ecologist and chair of UR’s department of geography and the environment.

When people hear professor Lookingbill is a landscape ecologist, they usually have one pressing question for him—“Why are my azaleas dying?”

While he knows the answer (usually lack of water), that is not his area of expertise.

Lookingbill’s research focuses on national parks, public land management, watershed issues, and climate change. Lookingbill says science requires diverse perspectives to come up with solutions to address important environmental issues that affect us all.

“This kind of science is what is needed to solve ‘wicked’ problems about human interaction with our environment,” Lookingbill said.

His use of “wicked” isn’t slang. He uses that term to describe the types of environmental problems that are especially difficult to solve.

One such issue is the westward movement of American tree populations due to climate change, which he discussed last week in a Christian Science Monitor article.

“It’s no longer novel science. Hundreds of thousands of species are changing behavior,” Lookingbill explains. “What is new is how we help them adapt and mitigate the effects.”