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.
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, ...
2016 - Journal / article
The combination of climate change and urbanization projected to occur until 2050 poses new challenges for land-use planning, not least in terms of reducing urban vulnerability to hazards from projected increases in the frequency and intensity of climate extremes. Interest in investments in green infrastructure (interconnected systems of parks, wetlands, gardens and other green spaces), as well as in restoration of urban ecosys...
2013 - Book chapter
We are entering a new urban era in which the ecology of the planet as a whole is increasingly influenced by human activities (Ellis 2011; Steffen et al. 2011a, b; Folke et al. 2011). Cities have become a central nexus of the relationship between people and nature, both as crucial centres of demand of ecosystem services, and as sources of environmental impacts. Approximately 60 % of the urban land present in 2030 is forecast ...