Project Updates

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Treatment

In June 2009, the town of Weston contracted Bransfield Tree Company to treat over 400 trees for the emerging pestHemlock Woolly Adelgid. The SEP has installed 22 permanent monitoring plots to study the effects of this work. The next phase of the project will begin in late August 2010 when we will measure foliage re-growth in our test plots.

Wildland and Woodlands Long-term Measurement

SEP has partnered with Harvard Forest, Highstead, and others to use permanent plots in Weston's town forest for long-term measurement of forest change in managed and unmanaged areas.  The plots are currently being installed across 1200 acres of town forest based on the recently completed Weston Forest Inventory.

Walden Wood Interactive Mapping Project

SEP has partnered with GIS specialists at Harvard Forest and the Thoreau Institute to map historical land ownership near Walden Pond. The site is expected to be complete fall of 2010.



Wetlands and Woodlands in Weston Town Forest

The suburbs are America’s most populous and fastest-growing human habitat and pose one of our greatest environmental challenges, yet suburban ecology and conservation are not well understood.  Most Brandeis students come from suburbia, and to suburbia most shall return. It may be up to them to remake the suburbs in more sustainable ways. The Suburban Ecology Project involves students with research and community land stewardship in the suburbs surrounding Brandeis.

Why Brandeis?

Brandeis is located in a suburban landscape that has seen many changes—native forest, agricultural clearing, the return of forest, and several waves of metropolitan growth. The university sits alongside Route 128, one of the nation’s first circumferential highways, built about 1950 just as Brandeis was being born and the modern suburbs were taking shape. Route 128 marks a boundary between urbanized inner suburbs such as Waltham, Newton, and Lexington, and leafy outer suburbs such as Weston, Lincoln, and Concord. These contrasting communities retain a wide range of their landscapes in protected open space intermixed with housing developments, shopping malls, and roads. They offer a ready-made laboratory for the study of suburban ecology on Brandeis’s doorstep.

Project Components

The Suburban Ecology Project focuses on research-based community and academic work. It serves as a platform for students interested in ecological research as well as a home-base for field courses at Brandeis. In concert with Land's Sake, the SEP will provide research support for forest and land management and educational activities.  Our work takes place primarily in Weston, Massachusetts, but extends throughout the Western suburbs of Boston. For more information on our current and past research projects, please visit the research page. For information on our community partners, please visit our community page. For information on our academic work and connection with Brandeis students, please visit our academic page.

Who We Are

Brian Donahue

Brian Donahue is the Associate Professor of American Environmental Studies (on the Jack Meyerhoff Fund). He also has an appointment at the Harvard Forest. He is a co-author of the vision Wildlands and Woodlands, a major component of SEP research. Brian co-teaches the Environmental Field Semester with Dan Perlman.

Dan L. Perlman

Dan Perlman is an Associate Professor of Biology at Brandeis. He has published on conservation and biodiversity, and is the creator of the premier educational photography site EcoLibrary. Dan co-teaches the Environmental Field Semester with Brian Donahue.

Emily J. Silver, Research Assistant

Emily Silver '08 was an environmental studies major completing a thesis on Sugar Maple Ecology and Conservation. She has worked as a Conservation Intern at Highstead Arboretum in Redding, Conn. and is an active member of the Wildlands and Woodlands Partnership.