“Farmers can be real stewards of the land,” said Sean Smukler. “The farm is an interface between a lot of different ecological functions. Water, carbon and other nutrients are really all in flux, based on farmers’ management.”
Recently appointed Assistant Professor, Applied Biology & Soil Science; Junior Chair, Agriculture and the Environment, Smukler will focus on agro-ecosystems as part of the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm.
“I’ll be looking at the environmental impacts of agriculture and researching ways to enable farmers to reduce their impact, as well as helping policy makers and consumers better understand their choices,” he said.
Smukler is interested in figuring out how to manage agricultural landscapes for multiple objectives. He plans to develop research tools and methods that enable decision makers to better understand their options and to see the multiple possibilities or outcomes from different management practices.
“Agriculture dominates our terrestrial landscape,” he added. “There’s very little wild land left, so agriculture needs to pay a role that’s more than just food production.”
Originally from Berkeley, California, Smukler earned a PhD in Ecology at the University of California, Davis (2008) – where he spent time working on the UC Davis student farm – and an MSc in Forest Soils at the University of Washington in Seattle (2003).
Prior to joining our Faculty in January 2012, Smukler spent three years at The Earth Institute at Columbia University as a Post Doctoral Fellow and then an Associate Research Scientist in the Tropical Agriculture and Rural Environment Program. His research was focused on the Millennium Village project, a large-scale development project mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where he evaluated the environmental impacts of interventions at project sites in Tanzania and Kenya and helped in the baseline analysis of a new site in Haiti.