FIU’s Southeast Environmental Research Center (SERC) has a new director Todd Crowl, who has plans to expand the center’s research, education and community engagement initiatives with sea level rise at the top of his priority list.
For more than two decades, SERC has focused on South Florida’s most threatened environments including the Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida Keys and other important areas. With more than a dozen researchers at FIU studying the science, politics, economics and tourism implications of sea level rise, an enhanced focus at SERC could have long-term implications for all of Florida.
“South Florida is now being called ground zero when we talk about climate change and especially sea level rise. It will be one of the first places to go underwater. That puts a lot of attention on us,” Crowl said. “SERC needs to continue to expand in scope from Everglades restoration to all of South Florida, including Downtown Miami and all along the coast. We need to focus on mitigating against sea level rise, hurricanes, storm surges and more.”
As a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, Crowl is also developing a course titled “The Philosophy of Science.” According to Crowl, the course is designed to help answer the question ‘What is good scientific practice?’ The course is based on a review of the history of philosophical ideas in the sciences with an emphasis of how these ideas have been brought to bare on the science of ecology.
Crowl was a professor of quantitative ecology at Utah State University for more than 25 years. In 2012, he was awarded a $20 million grant to establish iUTAH, or innovative Urban Transitions and arid region Hydro-Sustainability. iUTAH is a statewide effort to assist in building the human and research infrastructure needed to sustainably manage Utah’s waters.
“We are really excited to have Dr. Crowl at FIU. He is an outstanding scientist and has been a national leader in charting the future of environmental science research, especially the need to bring an understanding of human dimensions of issues,” Heithaus said. “Under his leadership, and with the truly exceptional faculty we have, SERC is poised to help provide solutions to important environmental challenges locally and around the globe.”
Crowl earned bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and zoology from Ohio State University, master’s degrees in statistics and ecology from the University of Oklahoma, and a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Oklahoma. His research interests include predator-prey interactions, food web ecology, and urban stream ecology.
Housed in the School of Environment, Arts and Society in the College of Arts & Sciences, SERC was founded in 1993 in response to a growing regional need for scientific investigations in South Florida’s threatened environments. Research programs provide a basis for the protection and restoration of their water resources, recreational lands and natural ecosystems. Water quality ecology and ecosystem science research has also been conducted in South America, the Caribbean and West Africa. In 2001, SERC received funding from the National Science Foundation to establish a Long-Term Ecological Research Program in the Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE-LTER). FCE-LTER is dedicated to long-term studies of how freshwater availability interacts with climate change and human activity to affect the Everglades ecosystem structure and its processes.