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Nicolson, Craig

Director, Sustainability Science MS Program

Sustainability and climate change; systems modeling; urban ecology; watershed systems
218 Holdsworth Hall
Email: craign

Primary interests

I study the sustainability of ecological-social system, addressing questions of how ecosystems change through time and how people interact with natural resources.  After working on Arctic system science for 15 years, I now work primarily in two domains: sustainable urban systems (Boston), and water resource management (New England and Africa).   In both cases I collaborate with teams of scientists and stakeholders to develop holistic understandings of complex system dynamics. My contribution to projects usually involves intellectual synthesis and often includes the development of dynamic computer simulation models using rule-based approaches and/or quantitative ecological analyses.

Student Committees

  • Jared Starr (MS, committee chair).  Factors leading to recycling success in Massachusetts municipalities.
  • Meagan Mazzarino (Ph.D. committee member). Effects of climate change on glaciers and alpaca herding communities in the Andes.
  • Lena Fletcher (PhD, committee member).  Impacts of climate change on forested watershed hydrology in Massachusetts.
  •  Tom Cairns (MS, committee chair).  GIS analysis of land use change and prioritization methods for land protection


Post-doctoral colleagues

Susannah Lerman (NSF Sustainability Science  Fellow with US Forest Service)

Former post-doctoral colleagues:  Kirk Olson (NSF Mongolian gazelle project); Michael Strohbach (NSF Boston Urban Ecology ULTRA)

Recent Publications and Submitted Manuscripts

Nicolson C.R., M Berman, G.P. Kofinas, C.T. West, and D.B Griffith.  (in press). Modeling the annual migration of the Porcupine Caribou Herd.  Ecology and Society.

Mueller, T., K.A. Olson, G. Dressler, P. Leimgruber, T.K. Fuller, C.R. Nicolson, A.J. Novaro, M.J. Bolgeri, D. Wattles, S. DeStefano, J.M. Calabrese, and W.F. Fagan. 2011. How landscape dynamics link individual movements to population-level patterns: a multispecies comparison of ungulate relocation data.  Global Ecology and Biogeography. DOI: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00638.x

Olson, K. A., T. K. Fuller, T. Mueller, M.G. Murray, C.R. Nicolson, D. Odonkhuu, S. Bolortsetseg, and G.B. Schaller. 2011.  Annual movements of Mongolian gazelles: nomads in the Eastern Steppe. Journal of Arid Environments. DOI: 10.1111/j/1755-263X.2011.00180.x

Ashjian, C.J., S.R. Braund, R.G. Campbell, J.C. George, J.A. Kruse, W. Maslowski, S.E. Moore,        C.R. Nicolson, S.R. Okkonen, B.F. Sherr, E. B. Sherr and Y.Spitz.  2010. Climate variability, oceanography, bowhead whale distribution, and Iñupiat subsistence whaling near Barrow, Alaska.  Arctic 63(2):179-194.

Dollar, E.S., C.R. Nicolson, C.A. Brown, J.K. Turpie, A.R. Joubert, A.R. Turton, D.F. Grobler, and H.H. Pienaar.  2010.  The development of the South African Water Resource Classification System (WRCS): a tool towards the sustainable, equitable and efficient use of water resources in a developing country. Water Policy 12:479-499.

Nicolson, C.R., W Koski, S Drobot, and J.C. George. 2008. Relating bowhead whale body condition and reproduction to Beaufort Sea ice conditions. Marine Mammal Commission Special Report Series, Bethesda, MD.  59 pages.

Olson, K.A., T. Mueller, P. Leimgruber, C.R. Nicolson, T.K. Fuller, A. Fine, B. Lhagavasuren, and W.F. Fagan.  2009.  Fences impede long-distance Mongolian gazelle (Procapra gutturosa) movements in drought-stricken landscapes. Mongolian Journal of Biological Science 7:45-50.


Courses Taught

ECO 697PS. Perspectives on Sustainability (usually offered in Fall)

This graduate seminar course is one of the core requirements for the MS in Sustainability Science.  Includes historical overview of sustainability, several current approaches to measuring sustainability (LEED, STARS, Green Report Card), scenario planning, and  case studies in food systems and energy systems analysis.

ENVIRSCI 197D and 297F.  Eco-Rep (Fall and Spring)

This 2-credit course builds a foundational knowledge surrounding issues of sustainability and explores how best to raise awareness about these issues.  Eco-Reps receive training and gain experience in promoting environmentally responsible behavior to their peers on campus.

Page updated: May 7, 2015