Craig NicolsonCraig Nicolson

Lecturer – Sustainability and climate change; systems modeling; urban ecology; watershed systems

Email: craign

Office: 218 Holdsworth Hall

Phone: 413-545-3154

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

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.

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

Starr, J. and Nicolson, C., 2015. Patterns in trash: Factors driving municipal recycling in Massachusetts. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 99, pp.7-18.

Danford, R.S., Cheng, C., Strohbach, M.W., Ryan, R., Nicolson, C. and Warren, P.S., 2014. What Does It Take to Achieve Equitable Urban Tree Canopy Distribution? A Boston Case Study. Cities and the Environment (CATE), 7(1), p.2.

Ryan, R.L., Warren, P.S., Nicolson, C., Cheng, C., Danford, R. and Strohbach, M.S., 2013. Scenario planning for the Boston Metropolitan Region: Exploring environmental and social implications of alternative futures. In Fábos Conference on Landscape and Greenway Planning 2013 (pp. 12-13).

Hutyra, L., Yang, Y., Kim, J., Cheng, C., O’Brien, P., Rouhani, S., Douglas, E.M., Nicolson, C., Ryan, R., Schaaf, C. and Warren, P., 2013, December. Future scenarios of urbanization and its effects on water quantity and quality in three New England watersheds. In AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts.

Runfola, D.M., Polsky, C., Nicolson, C., Giner, N.M., Pontius, R.G., Krahe, J. and Decatur, A., 2013. A growing concern? Examining the influence of lawn size on residential water use in suburban Boston, MA, USA. Landscape and Urban Planning, 119, pp.113-123.

Nicolson, C., Berman, M., West, C., Kofinas, G., Griffith, B., Russell, D. and Dugan, D., 2013. Seasonal climate variation and caribou availability: modeling sequential movement using satellite-relocation data. Ecology and Society, 18(2).

Cheng, C., Brabec, E.A., Ryan, R.L., Yang, Y.C.E., Nicolson, C. and Warren, P.S., 2013. Future flooding risk assessment under growth scenarios and climate change impacts for the Charles River Watershed in the Boston Metropolitan Area. In Joint Association of European Schools of Planning and The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Annual Congress.

Hewes, C., Smith, R.F. and Nicolson, C., 2013. Modeling Effectiveness of Low Impact Development on Runoff Volume in the Tan Brook Watershed.

Runfola, D.M., Polsky, C., Giner, N., Pontius Jr, R.G. and Nicolson, C., 2013. Future suburban development and the environmental implications of lawns: A case study in New England, USA. In Modeling of Land-Use and Ecological Dynamics (pp. 119-141). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Other publications