Our Research Baron and her team visiting Rocky Mountain National Park on Sept. 20, 2013 to collect samples after the historic Colorado floods. Our Program Our Curriculum Specialization Front Range Student Ecology Symposium Photo is courtesy of Caroline Melle. It was taken near her research site at Imnavait Creek by Toolik Lake field station, AK Diana Wall and crew in Antarctica Chris Funk and crew hiking in Oyacachi, Ecuador Kurogawa (Kuro Stream), a stream with native Japanese charr and salmon in the mountains of Shikoku Island, southern Japan – image by David Herasimtschuk

Our Program

Since its inception in 1992, GDPE has grown to become a principal organization that catalyzes cutting-edge and world-renowned ecological research performed at Colorado State University.

Our primary goal is to provide outstanding training for graduate students in the ecological sciences, and our students consistently earn recognition for their scholarship and academic achievement.

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GDPE PhD Area of Specialization

Human/Environment Interactions

Increasing rates of poverty, landlessness, and declining health are co-occurring with rapid shifts in land use, land cover, loss of biodiversity and global warming.

These interconnected human/environmental changes represent a clear risk to the well being of individuals, communities and societies now and in the future.

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Our Curriculum

GDPE's degree programs are rigorous and comprehensive offering both M.S. and Ph.D. tracks in addition to the Human/Environment Interactions specialization.

The GDPE curriculum is designed to provide a breadth and depth of training to MS and PhD students, who will emerge from the program as highly competent and skilled graduates.

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Our Research

The Graduate Degree Program in Ecology is recognized by Colorado State University as a Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence (PRSE). Programs are awarded this designation because they have achieved great distinction and set a standard for excellence that may serve as a model for programs throughout the institution.

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Front Range Student Ecology Symposium

FRSES is a student-run symposium that provides an opportunity for Front Range students doing research in ecology to showcase their work and network in a friendly and supportive peer environment. Highlights include a keynote address by an invited speaker, a full day of poster and oral presentation sessions, an awards banquet to recognize exceptional student work, and a social gathering to celebrate student success.

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Why graduate school at CSU is for you!

"CSU has meant everything to my success. No other university I know of trains its students to work collaboratively across disciplines to solve societal issues. These were the gifts CSU gave me when I arrived and these are the gifts it gives students today. I was so fortunate to learn from the giants in ecosystem ecology how to think big and across disciplines, and apply that knowledge toward solving societal problems."
- Colorado State Scientist Jill Baron

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2016-17 Distinguished Ecologists


GDPE Ecologists in the News

'Shifting our trajectory': The Standing Committee on the Status of Women Faculty

It can seem a pretty daunting challenge when you serve on a committee charged with bringing about major institutional change, overcoming obstacles and structural constraints shaped by history and human nature over 150 years. But the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Faculty has moved swiftly, boldly and with determination to forge a better future for Colorado State University despite its relative newness in the institution's long life. President Tony Frank established the committee in May 2014, making the announcement in a message to campus titled Shifting our Trajectory, acknowledging the need to change the climate for women at CSU. Members of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Faculty include Erica Suchman, Tammy Donahue, Ellen Fisher, Cori Wong, Cynthia Brown, Jennifer Nyborg, Diana Prieto, and Paul Doherty. Frank charged the standing committee with designing strategies and promoting activities that would enhance gender equality and the status of women faculty at CSU.

SoGES Director Diana Wall receives top honor from Ecological Society of America

Colorado State University Distinguished Professor Diana Wall was recognized March 1 by the Ecological Society of America, which announced that she will receive its highest honor, the 2017 Eminent Ecologist Award, at the society's annual meeting in August. The award honors a senior ecologist for an outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit. Wall, a world-renowned soil ecologist and director of CSU's School of Global Environmental Sustainability, said that she was deeply honored by this recognition. "I am excited to join such an esteemed group of ecologists as we work towards a future in which ecology takes center stage," she said. The Ecological Society of America has more than 10,000 members worldwide. Sixty-four ecologists have received this top honor since it was first awarded in 1953. Wall recently returned from Antarctica - her 27th year "on the ice" - with a team of researchers from CSU and across the United States. She studies soil nematodes, or roundworms, in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, one of the coldest, driest and windiest ecosystems on the planet.

Getting to the root(s) of the problem

John McKay, an associate professor in CSU's Department of Bioagricultureal Sciences and Pest Management, will lead the project - Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration (ROOTS) - which will automate the phenotyping of plant roots in agricultural fields and allow researchers to learn more about the genetic composition of the plants based on their roots. "This grant will allow us to scale up our research and look at roots in thousands of research plots and millions of plants," said McKay. "Previously, we were limited by the number of plants we could harvest by hand which meant we lacked the power to identify genes underlying important variation in root traits, including the ideal root systems for maximizing water and nutrient use efficiency." The project will employ two different approaches - pulling the plants out of the ground using a machine currently deployed to examine above-ground material and examing the soil around the plants by using novel, automated sampling the soil throughout the growing season. The researchers are interested in learning which nutrients each plant genotype is using and how much carbon remains in the soil.