FES Graduate Program Areas of Focus

What are Areas of Focus and why does FES have them?

The Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society is home to an unusually diverse body of faculty whose research extends from plant genetics to the social impacts of tourism. In order to help you navigate our department and, if you are a potential graduate student, help you determine if FES might be right for you, we've categorized the work of our faculty into seven "Areas of Focus" (described in the table below). The categories are unofficial, so if you are accepted at FES you will not be assigned to any one area, nor will you have any special requirements based on an area. 

Example Coursework

Beneath the description of each Area of Focus (table below) is a link to example coursework that a student working in this area might take. This is only to give you a general idea of what you might expect. FES does not require that their students take any specific courses. Every student's courseload is determined individually through consultation with the major professor and thesis committee, after taking into consideration the student's previous academic background and experience.

Major Professor Areas of Focus

You can find a list of faculty who serve as major professors, sortable by Area of Focus, here.

Seven Areas of Focus


Forest, Wildlife and Landscape Ecology Genetics and Physiology Integrated Social and Ecological Systems

The many dimensions of biodiversity are the topic of this area of concentration. Species and communities of species, act, react and interact at many spatial and temporal scales. These dynamics take place in an environment that can change gradually or quite rapidly and that can have a large impact on dynamics through direct and indirect effects on species and inter-specific relationships. (Example Coursework)


The genetic and physiological mechanisms, from the scale of molecules and tissues to whole organisms, populations, and species, that determine how plants grow, reproduce, respond to environment, and are managed and modified for human benefit. (Example Coursework)

Many issues in the broad natural resources arena are truly interdisciplinary across the biophysical and the social sciences. This area of concentration focuses on the integration of these sciences in developing basic concepts and in resolving management issues. (Example Coursework)


Science of Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Management Social Science, Policy, and Natural Resources Soil-Plant-Atmosphere Continuum

The bases for these integrated sciences are found in the more basic biophysical and social sciences but their application to these complex goals generates new scientific challenges. This area of concentration seeks to develop these new scientific understandings. (Example Coursework)

Exploration of social, human dimensions, and policy aspects of natural resource issues by examining linkages among humans, society, and the natural resources on which humans and society depend. (Example Coursework)


The movement of energy and matter within and among ecosystems controls how these systems function and the services they provide. This area of concentration investigates the mechanisms controlling ecosystem behavior over a range of levels from the whole-plant to the globe. (Example Coursework)


Sustainable Recreation and Tourism

Social and/or ecological topics in sustainable recreation and tourism including recreation and tourism behavior; social and/or ecological impacts; and planning, management, and policy. (Example Coursework)