Julie is broadly interested in the dynamics of urban social-ecological systems, with applications to management and governance for sustainability. Her passion lies in exploring how actions and interventions at the city-scale can help urban dwellers to live healthier, happier lives connected to urban landscapes of ecological integrity.
Julie's doctoral research focuses on the relationship between urbanization, functional traits, and ecosystem service provision. Specifically, she is interested in the functional traits that are lost and gained in the urban environment in relation to changes in particular urban habitat types and form (with regards to plants and birds). From this exploration, she is interested in examining to what extent a functional trait approach in plants and birds may be useful in an urban planning context. Case study cities for her work include Stockholm, Sweden, and Cape Town, South Africa, as well as a global-focus component.
In other work, she is the founder and facilitator of Youth Design Studio: Creating for Communities, a sustainable design class for high school students in Cape Town, South Africa, that teaches students to design and create a project for their community. Youth Design Studio has been selected as an official project of the 2014 Cape Town World Design Capital, a year-long programme of initiatives devoted to using design for creative social transformation in Cape Town. Julie currently serves on the board of the non-profit Imagine More, which hosts Youth Design Studio.
Prior to her PhD studies, Julie's recent research has included work as a Fulbright Scholar in Cape Town, South Africa, investigating biodiversity management policy, how it is put into practice, and applications for future management best practices both in Cape Town and other global cities. A component of this project focused on evaluating local elected representatives' baseline knowledge and perceptions of biodiversity in order to direct future city government education and training modules.
In work at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Julie has conducted projects to investigate the efficacy of constructed wetlands as tools for the improvement of urban water quality, and has worked on designed experiments that combine research on riparian buffers with public educational installations on watershed health.
Most recently, Julie has served as a project manager, editor, and author of the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook (CBO), the first global assessment of the links between urbanization, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. The focus of the CBO is to analyze how urbanization and urban growth impact biodiversity and ecosystems, and deliver key messages on the conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources to decision-makers. The CBO is a joint project of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Julie's education includes an M.E.Sc. from Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and a dual B.A. in Biology as well as English and American Literature from New York University. In her other identities, she is an avid urban wanderer, runner, cook, and street art admirer.
Research news | 2018-01-24
Former and current PhD students from SRC propose a new framework to help early-career sustainability scholars to become “undisciplinary”
Research news | 2014-10-31
In one year the book has been downloaded more than 145.000 times in more than 100 countries
2018 - Journal / article
Cities are currently experiencing serious, multifaceted impacts from global environmental change, especially climate change, and the degree to which they will need to cope with and adapt to such challenges will continue to increase. A complex systems approach inspired by evolutionary theory can inform strategies for policies and interventions to deal with growing urban vulnerabilities. Such an approach would guide the design o...
2017 - Journal / article
In many countries in the European Union (EU), the popularity of communal urban gardening (CUG) on allotments and community gardens is on the rise. Given the role of this practice in increasing urban resilience, most notably social resilience, municipalities in the Global North are promoting CUG as a nature-based solution (NbS). However, the mechanisms by which institutional actors can best support and facilitate CUG are unders...
2017 - Journal / article
The establishment of interdisciplinary Master’s and PhD programmes in sustainability science is opening up an exciting arena filled with opportunities for early-career scholars to address pressing sustainability challenges. However, embarking upon an interdisciplinary endeavor as an early-career scholar poses a unique set of challenges: to develop an individual scientific identity and a strong and specific methodological skill...
2016 - Journal / article
Functional traits have been proposed as a more mechanistic way than species data alone to connect biodiversity to ecosystem processes and function in ecological research. Recently, this framework has also been broadened to include connections of traits to ecosystem services. While many links between traits and ecosystem processes/functions are easily and logically extended to regulating, supporting, and provisioning services, ...