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2023 | Transdisciplinary Research & Graduate Training in Environmental Restoration

Students in the field

FACULTY SEED GRANT | Global Change Center

Transdisciplinary Research and Graduate Training in Environmental Restoration at Virginia Tech


  • Dr. J. Leighton Reid, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
  • Dr. Sally Entrekin, Entomology
  • Dr. Cully Hession, Biological Systems Engineering
  • Dr. Sarah Karpanty, Fish and Wildlife Conservation
  • Dr. Rachel Reid, Geosciences
  • Dr. Haldre Rogers, Fish and Wildlife Conservation
  • Dr. Stella Schons, Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation
  • Dr. Jessica Taylor, History
  • Dr. Jeff Walters, Biological Sciences 

This study is funded jointly by the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech and the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment (ISCE).

The decisions that society makes this decade about how and where to restore the environment will have profound implications for the future of human civilization and life on earth. Done well, environmental restoration has the potential to improve the lives of billions of people, prevent thousands of extinctions, and sequester massive amounts of atmospheric carbon. Done poorly, actions taken in the name of restoration may instead deepen social inequality, destroy habitats, and exacerbate climate change.

The Restoration Ecology Working Group (REWG) at Virginia Tech seeks to develop transdisciplinary research and graduate training that are urgently needed to scale up environmental restoration effectively and develop the restoration workforce. Our team is already addressing how to make large-scale restoration decision making more equitable, identifying sources of bias in large-scale restoration evaluations, and using novel paleoenvironmental proxies to study past landscapes. With GCC-ISCE funding in 2023, we will further build core strengths that are our group needs to successfully deliver the transdisciplinary collaborations and training programs we envision.

Our goals for this project are to build community and collaboration among members of the VT community and to advance our understanding of how to develop transdisciplinary research grounded in Indigenous values and knowledge. To accomplish these, we will sponsor a semester-long graduate seminar focused on readings and discussions about Indigenous issues in environmental restoration. Through this seminar, we aim to build relationships with Indigenous groups and campus leaders in Indigenous studies and culture. We will also host a day-long summit in Spring 2024 focused on transdisciplinary approaches to ecological restoration, with an emphasis on restoration in Indigenous lands driven by Indigenous peoples.