Seminar Speaker Series

Newark Environmental Sustainability Institute (NESI) Seminar Speaker Series

The Newark Environmental Sustainability Institute (NESI) at Rutgers University-Newark is hosting their Fall 2017 monthly Seminar Speaker Series that highlights multi-disciplinary research and programming in sustainability issues. Presentations draw from the expertise of faculty, community partners and corporate enterprise.


On Tuesday, November 14, NESI  and the Biological Sciences Department at Rutgers-Newark are co-sponsoring a seminar by Dr. Myla Aronson, plant ecologist, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources, Rutgers University, New Brunswick.


Scheduled presentation: Biodiversity in the Concrete Jungle: Understanding Nature in Cities for a More Resilient Future


The majority of humanity now lives in urban areas, with this proportion expected to continue increasing for the foreseeable future. Because the majority of the world’s cities and towns are in areas of high biodiversity, the rapid urbanization of the world has a profound effect on global biodiversity. Although ecologists have made great strides in recent decades at documenting ecological relationships in urban areas, much remains unknown, and we still need to identify the major ecological and environmental factors, aside from habitat loss, that drive ecological communities in cities and towns. Understanding these factors will provide a basis for successful ecological restoration in cities. Here I will discuss: 1) the status of biodiversity in the world’s cities and towns; 2) planning for biodiversity in cities; and 3) restoration of ecological communities in cities. While the world’s cities and towns are certainly hotspots of species loss, they are also surprisingly biodiverse, supporting native plant communities as well as threatened and endangered plant species. Ecological restoration in cities is beset by many challenges, but can lead to enhanced biodiversity and resilient ecological communities. Understanding ecological processes in cities and towns is increasingly important and offers unique insights into the science of ecology. Furthermore, an understanding of the factors affecting biodiversity in cities is necessary to inform scientists, city planners, and managers to best conserve and restore urban biota.


Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Time: 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Location: Smith Hall Seminar Room 125, 101 Warren St., Newark, NJ 07102


Myla Aronson Biography

Myla F.J. Aronson is a plant ecologist whose interests focus on the conservation, restoration, and maintenance of biodiversity in human dominated landscapes. She received her B.S. in Natural Resources from Cornell University and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources at Rutgers University and the Associate Editor-in-Chief of the journal Ecological Restoration. She also co-directs, with Charles Nilon at the University of Missouri-Columbia, UrBioNet: A Global Network for Urban Biodiversity Research and Practice ( Dr. Aronson’s research focuses on the patterns and drivers of biodiversity in urban landscapes, in particular to understand community assembly and biotic homogenization in cities at local, regional, and global scales.

 She also focuses on dynamics of species invasions and the ecological function of restored communities. Finally, she studies management and planning for biodiversity in cities. Dr. Aronson has used the results from her research to direct decisions regarding the restoration and management of degraded habitats and city planning. She is currently the chair of the Urban Ecosystem Ecology section of the Ecological Society of America and serves on the scientific advisory committees for NYC Nature Goals 2050, Silicon Valley Urban Greening Panel, Stewardship Mapping and Assessment Project (STEW-MAP) in New York City, and Fire Island National Seashore, In addition to her applied restoration work, she has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels at Rutgers University, Luther College, and Hofstra University. Website:




Hope to see you there!